Trial consultants are legal professionals involved in jury selection in civil or criminal trials. The work might also entail organizing testimony, designing questions, getting shadow jurors to observe trials and give feedback, witness preparation, and working with focus groups for the purpose of gathering information that could be relevant to an upcoming trial. Of note, trial consultants are not legal experts; rather, they are experts in understanding and predicting human behavior and that is why they are useful as jury selectors. If you want to become a trial consultant, you generally will need a college degree and a post-graduate degree.
To become a trial consultant, it is helpful to get a college degree and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Because the work involves jury selection, it is necessary for trial consultants to be knowledgeable about human behavior. Thus, majors such as psychology, political science, criminology, and sociology are very relevant because these majors enable a better understanding of human behavior.
After attaining the college degree and a graduate degree, no specific certificate is legally required to become a trial consultant. Nonetheless, there is an American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC) that provides trial consulting information, an annual conference, opportunities for career networking, and opportunities for professional growth if you want to become a trial consultant. Membership in the ASTC is not restricted to professional trial consultants. There are memberships available to students who want to become trial consultants after completion of their schooling.
If you want to become a trial consultant, it is helpful to have good research skills, good communications skills, and good interpersonal skills. Research is an important aspect of this job because trial consultants must often rely on statistics and published studies to inform their jury selections. Also, trial consultants must effectively present their findings and recommendations to attorneys both verbally and in writing.
Trial consultants typically work with law firms of all sizes. If you have interest in human behavior, being a trial consultant can be exciting work; however, it is important to note that this type of work is very stressful and demanding. Travel and flexible scheduling may also be required depending on the law firms' needs. If you are interested in working with lawyers, if understanding and predicting human behavior is your interest, and if flexible scheduling is acceptable to you, a career as a trial consultant is a possible option.