What is a Trial Consultant?
Trial consultants are professionals who work with lawyers before and during a trial to strategize the most effective approach for presenting a case in order to have the best chance of achieving the desired ruling. They help the trial team assess what the jury will think about their case and how they are likely to rule, as well as suggest ways to make their arguments more effective. Some areas that trial consultants may assist with include:
- Composing opening and closing statements
- Mock trials and surveying the community
- Choosing and preparing witnesses
- Deciding how to present evidence to the jury
- Selecting a jury
- Coordinating with the media
Trial consultants may work for law firms, trial consulting firms, or might choose to start their own consulting practice.
|Educational Requirements||Background in law, law enforcement, or social sciences including psychology or sociology|
|Job Skills||Research skills, technology skills, critical thinking skills|
|Average Salary (2019)||$80,459*|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026||9% (all legal occupations)**|
Sources: *ZipRecruiter.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
There is not just one track to becoming a trial consultant; they can come from a variety of backgrounds including law and law enforcement, psychology, other social sciences such as sociology, or business fields such as marketing and communications. Many trial consultants have degrees in the social sciences, but some larger consulting firms may look for further qualifications, such as experience as an attorney or a background in statistics.
Trial consultants must possess strong research skills. They will often perform research on topics such as members of the jury by looking through each member's social media accounts and any other information on public record in order to determine how they will likely feel about a particular case. Trial consultants must also be strong critical thinkers; they must take their research and extrapolate from it which areas of the case should be improved and how that can be accomplished.
In addition, trial consultants should be skilled at using technology, which is often utilized during trial as a tool for presenting evidence. Lastly, trial consultants must be skilled at interpersonal communication, as they will be working closely with a number of people, including attorneys, witnesses, and at times even members of the media.
Career Outlook and Salary
According to ZipRecruiter.com, the average annual salary for trial consultants in 2019 is just above $80,000 per year, but can fall anywhere from $19,000 to $162,000, depending on education, background, job experience, and the company of employment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the career field for lawyers will grow about 8% between 2016 and 2026, which is considered about average growth. Career growth for all legal occupations during that same time is predicted at 9%, which is still average. The field of trial consulting may grow faster, however, in part because it is a relatively new field that has become increasingly popular within the legal profession.
The following articles detail some related careers that those considering working as a trial consultant may be interested in learning more about: