What Big Data Can Tell You About Your Jury Pool

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Special Guests: Sean Dennin and Peter Mansmann

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On this episode of the Legal Technology Review Podcast, my guests Sean Dennin and Peter Mansmann, CEO and President, respectively, of Precise, Inc., a legal technology company from Pennsylvania, join me to discuss their newest product, Predict.

Using the power of statistical research and analysis, Predict allows attorneys to get a detailed, statistically significant look at how jurors are likely to respond to various issues, topics, witnesses and general concepts in their case.

Precise, Inc. uses Big Data and Presentation Tools to help lawyers

They’ve gotten good at figuring out the best way to present information to people. For example, people spend 11 hours per day getting their information from a screen – TV, internet, social media, etc.

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Um… we’re screwed!

As a result, jurors tend to be pretty bored with the way information is presented, so Precise has spent a lot of time learning about ways to take information and present it in a way that jurors are not only likely to understand, but also are more likely to remember – because they’re actually paying attention.

Predict – Using Big Data to Break Down Your Jury Pool

Predict is bringing the science of statistics and psychological profiling – understanding the way populations respond to fact patterns. It’s been used in many industries – what message is going to resonate with what types of people, and what types of people are going to best respond to your message?

There are four basic personality types in the Myers-Briggs personality profile. (16 types, but 4 types of 4 main categories) – people in each type tend to view things differently.

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If you can present information in a controlled way to the right representative groups of various personality types, you have a better idea of how people of that personality type will respond in trial. It’s a predictive model for how the general population will respond to your information/arguments. The idea is providing data points to help make decisions, more efficiently and cost effectively than mock juries.

Focus groups and mock juries are far too time consuming to be really significantly useful. Only the biggest of the big law firms in the biggest of the big cases can really afford it.

This psychological process has been run since the civil war by government and business. There isn’t a major commercial or business decision made without this type of information. So while a mock jury or a focus group definitely provides the feedback that you’re looking for, it’s generally just going to be anecdotal, and not give you a statistically significant look at the actual population in your jury’s geographical area.

The Predict Process…

…starts with an attorney developing a narrative. First, you need to know what you want to measure – sometimes it can be just a specific issue, or even as narrow as whether introducing this witness/expert will have an impact at trial.

Once the narrative is put together, the narrative is sent out to a group of professional readers. This group includes representatives each of the different demographics and personality profiles. The readers highlight what they feel are the key facts and key issues. This first reading is just a validation step.

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To learn more about the Predict Process, contact consult@precise-law.com.


The attorney then sees if their narrative truly represents what they’re looking for, and that no key issues are being missed. Once that’s compiled, the attorney works with Precise to come up with survey questions. This is where the attorney breaks down what information they really want to know – case valuation? Person is lying? This doctor did this?

Usually anywhere from 10-30 survey questions, which are submitted to groups who complete the survey. The survey is completely anonymous, and includes a comment section to allow for unfiltered reaction to the questions.

Once the responses come back, the statistical analysis begins. Mainly, Predict looks for big variations in the responses between groups. Once that information is collected, it can be decided if they want to delve deeper to make sure the reaction is statistically valid.

Everything is compiled into a report and delivered to the client. At that point, the attorney gets a walkthrough of the report to identify the large variations. The differences can be based on demographics, personality type, age, gender, and other demographic factors.

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“I don’t care what your demographics say, I really feel like this guy is going to empathize with our client!”

Not only is this analysis helpful in picking a jury, it is also really useful in settlement analysis. When parties are really unsure about settlement value, this type of analysis can help determine how a potential jury pool will react to different arguments and potential levels of compensation.

How Else Can Big Data Help?

Analysis can help you find out about your case. For example, one personality type might, based on the analysis, demonstrate that they’re on your side due to a compassionate disposition, but an introverted person might need a serious hard-sell.

Occupation, Age, Race, Religious Affiliation, IQ

These factors allow for a greater predictive element. Attorneys can gain significant insight into how important individual motions in limine are for a particular case, given the facts and the demographics in the potential jury pool.

Now, most lawyers are deathly afraid of the jury. They’re afraid of the one dominant person in the jury, and they’re really going by gut reaction and their own experience – which is something that fewer and fewer attorneys really have enough of anymore.

(Editor’s Note: I freaking LOVE juries. Just felt like throwing that in there.)

In reality, with the information collected about a jury pool is actually enough to get a pretty solid psychological profile. Statistically, the reality is that it’s possible to identify the potential jurors most likely to be that dominant person in a jury room based on that information, so ignore that information at your peril!

The main thrust is to determine the win-ability of a case, the potential value of a case, and the strength of particular arguments in the case – all driven by the questions posed in the survey.

That’s the starting point. Early adopters are primarily plaintiff’s attorneys – tend to have more control and have more at risk – using it to determine whether they’re getting a good settlement offer.

A rising industry where this tool has been used is litigation funding. When parties can’t afford litigation on their own, but they can use the available information to present to litigation funding companies to support their requests for additional funding.

One potential trend is attorneys using this type of tool much earlier in the process to find out what arguments will be the most contentious, or drive value or win-ability, in order to allocate resources and experts where they’re going to have the greatest impact.

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Or, you could just roll the dice. I’m sure your clients LOVE that approach!

In the end…

Nothing guarantees a result. The key thing is that this is statistically valid information. This isn’t just the opinion of the people you selected for your mock jury, it’s statistically valid information from a statistically significant sample size.

Remember, even a focus group in the area your case isn’t likely to be truly representative of a group of people. It’ll be representative of a group of people who actually sign up for a focus group. However, by getting the information from a large sample size of a wide variety of demographic groups.

About the Author

bio 2Brian Focht is a civil litigation attorney and technology enthusiast. In addition to being the author of The Cyber Advocate, he is also the producer and host of the Legal Technology Review podcast, and co-founder of B&R Concepts, a small business technology consulting company.