Jury consultants perform effective witness preparation, practical small group research and informed jury selection. They come from a number of academic disciplines, including psychology, law, sociology, communication, theatre and linguistics. The salary range for a jury consultant will vary, depending upon his educational background and experience.
Why They're Hired
The primary reason that a jury consultant is hired is to help uncover hidden biases among a potential jury pool. The court only allows attorneys to challenge the seating of a particular number of jurors, so it’s preferable to use those challenges wisely. A jury consultant gives attorneys an idea of which juries are most likely to look favorably on their side of a case.
The average salary depends largely upon academic background and training. For example, a research analyst freshly graduated from college may earn $38,000 to $43,000. A consultant with a master’s in psychology may earn $50,000 to $80,000 and an entry-level quantitative psychologist with a doctorate degree and little work experience can earn anywhere from $65,000 to $110,000 working for a trail consulting firm.
Although there are organizations dedicated to jury consultants, the profession is largely unregulated, with no particular path that leads to the position. Because jury consultants can come from nearly any academic background, it is impossible to pinpoint which training provides the best basis for the job. It may be due to this lack of regulation that many scholars are skeptical of the value of jury consultants. Another criticism of jury consultants is that they give the general public that with enough money, a defendant can hire a consultant, seat a favorable jury, and essentially purchase a verdict. In spite of these concerns, some judges have a jury consultant provided to indigent defendants in an effort to level the perceived playing field.
Jury consulting is not an easy field to break into. Candidates come from all over the academic map. Networking and personal connections seem to be the surest route to a job. If you’re interested in working as a jury consultant, the American Society of Trial Consultants may be a good place to begin. There are members who are willing to mentor aspiring consultants.