Book Review: How to Do Your Own Focus Groups: A Guide for Trial Lawyers

Even with a thorough investigation and analysis of the case, you can overlook things, even the most obvious. This is especially true once you’ve formulated a case theory because there is a natural tendency to miss or reject that which is inconsistent with that hypothesis. That is why focus groups are such valuable tools for trial lawyers.
Focus groups can give you insight into almost all aspects of trial advocacy. For instance, they can provide insight into how jurors will react to the case, the witnesses, the exhibits, and the case theory. They can provide: new ideas for how to present the case; effective arguments; analogies, themes.

A trial consultant can be hired to do the focus group. A good resource for locating a trial consultant is the American Society of Trial Consultants found online at On the other hand, if your budget does not allow you to use a consultant, you can do your own focus group.

David Ball, PhD, a nationally known trial consultant and author of David Ball on Damages, provides detailed advice on conducting focus groups in How to Do Your Own Focus Groups: A Guide for Trial Lawyers, NITA 2001.

Ball covers the waterfront in his book; chapters are as follows:

1. What Kind of Focus Group Should You Do?
2. Who Should Present the Case?
3. How Is the Case Presented?
4. How Many?
5. What Is Wrong With Winning?
6. When to Do Focus Groups
7. Where to Do Focus Groups
8. Recruiting the Focus-Jurors
9. Rooms and Video
10. When Focus-Jurors Arrive
11. Introductory Remarks
12. Who Are You?
13. What is this Project?
14. Writing the Presentation Statement
15. The Neutral Statement
16. Plaintiff or Prosecution Statement
17. Defense Statement
18. Plaintiff or Prosecution Rebuttal
19. Witness Presentation and Focus-Juror Questions
20. Divide the Jurors into Deliberation Panels
21. Instructions Before Deliberating
22. Verdict Questions
23. After Deliberations
24. Optional Next Step
25. Analysis
26. Conclusion

The appendix includes forms and templates that can be used for letters, questionnaires, scripts and so on. Armed with this book, counsel can properly conduct focus groups and reap the benefits.