What our Jury Research Tells us About Strategies for Out-of-Town Attorneys

CSI - Courtroom Sciences Inc.

Attorneys have likely noticed what seems to be a growing trend of attorneys "parachuting" into cases, especially when high-stakes litigation is at play. Excess carriers or large firms often bring in these out-of-town attorneys to handle cases in unfamiliar jurisdictions. Still, an outsider's geographic and cultural differences can have a material impact on jurors.

While parachuting attorneys can win over a jury, the outside attorney must consider some very specific things. As these parachuting situations are happening more often, jury research offers strategies out-of-town attorneys can employ to navigate these challenges successfully.

What strategies can help enhance the overall perception of out-of-town attorneys?

Adapting the right strategies can make a significant difference in achieving favorable outcomes for clients. Jury research indicates that by being authentic, passionate, and respectful, out-of-town attorneys can build rapport with the jury and present a compelling case.

The Impact of Geography and Culture

Picture this: a group of Los Angeles attorneys landing in Texas for a significant case, decked out in cowboy boots, attempting to blend in with the local culture. As one could guess, this attempt will likely be less than successful. However, this anecdote exemplifies attorneys' challenges when parachuting into cases in unfamiliar locations.

Additionally, this hypothetical scenario is not limited to a specific region, as it has the potential to happen all over the United States. Attorneys from New York City may be sent to try a case in Birmingham, Chicago lawyers may be sent to Des Moines, or San Francisco attorneys may be sent to try a case in Raleigh. No matter the locale, a unique set of challenges can arise whenever an out-of-town attorney is brought in on a case. 

Jurors often react unfavorably to outsiders, and opposing attorneys may exploit this by framing the parachuting attorney as an outsider who doesn't understand the local values and dynamics. It’s vital for out-of-town attorneys to avoid trying to appropriate local culture and be cognizant of other cultural differences, such as the speed at which they speak. 

Exhibiting Authenticity, Passion, and Respect

Winning over a jury may feel like an uphill battle for "parachuting" attorneys. However, it can be accomplished with the right careful approach. Authenticity, passion, and respect are often three key elements for attorneys to exhibit when striving to connect with jurors in a different location from where they usually practice. 

Authenticity - Jurors want to see the real person behind the attorney, and authenticity goes a long way. Rather than adapting to the local culture or style, attorneys are better served by remaining themselves. 

Passion - Jurors typically expect both parties' attorneys to advocate passionately for their cases. Demonstrating genuine belief in your client's position can earn credibility in the eyes of the jury.

Respect - Treating jurors with respect, regardless of their background, is essential to building a positive rapport with the jury. Attorneys should ensure that they never talk down to the jury.

The Role of Local Counsel

Out-of-town attorneys shouldn’t underestimate the need to utilize local counsel as part of their strategy. When utilized effectively, local counsel can play a significant role in diversifying the legal team and enhancing the overall perception of the parachuting attorney. 

Local counsel often brings a deep understanding of the local community, culture, and values, which can be invaluable during jury selection and trial. Utilize local counsel effectively. Having local counsel involved in the case helps to break the image of a table full of ‘high-powered’ attorneys from outside the venue. The local attorney's involvement also helps demonstrate that the legal team is not just a group of outsiders but a collaborative, diverse team working on the case.

The concept of the parachuting attorney does not appear to be going away. This trend appears to only be growing, in many instances, thanks to increasing damage claims. As the success of out-of-town attorneys often largely depends on their ability to navigate the challenges posed by geographical and cultural differences, it becomes increasingly important for these parachuting attorneys to learn how to build rapport with the jury and present a compelling case. 

At Courtroom Sciences, our science-based approach to data collection and analysis by experts in litigation research ensures you can trust the results that drive your strategic and tactical decisions. Learn how we deliver actionable insights to mitigate the risks that lead to devastating outcomes by speaking with one of our experts. 

Key Takeaways

●  The success of out-of-town attorneys often largely depends on their ability to navigate the challenges posed by geographical and cultural differences.

●  Local counsel can play a significant role in diversifying the legal team and understanding the local community, culture, and values.

●  Jurors expect attorneys to advocate for their clients passionately.

●  Respectful interactions with jurors can enhance credibility and connection with the jury.

●  When "parachuting" into cases in unfamiliar locations, it's important to remember that jurors appreciate genuine authenticity.

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