5. Post-Focus Group Strategy Consultation

Our work is almost done. The end is in sight. But we still haven’t reached the finish line.

The Focus Group experience can be cathartic. We learn things about our case that we never expected, we are forced to self-evaluate and abandon our preconceived notions of strategy, and we often leave the session exhausted.

But now we must press on. Like the scientific method, we need to go back to the beginning and start over, incorporating the lessons learned from the experiment.

We are often asked whether and why Criminal Defense Consultants need to be involved at this step. After all, the purpose was to get to the focus group and get the feedback. It sounds simple. But it is not so easy.

All trial attorneys know the feeling after a jury trial. The very thought of re-visiting, re-evaluating, and re-considering the trial is almost impossible. After a hung jury or reversal on appeal, it takes monumental effort to tackle the case a second time with the same rigor we had when we first started out.

Because the Focus Group so closely mimics the trial experience, the after-effects feel the same. For all the reasons we get trapped in our initial ideas, it is easy and natural to avoid the process of “starting over” after the Focus Group.

But in order to give any credence and value to the results, we have to power through. This is where our involvement becomes critical. We can gently (and not so gently) force the process and get the trial attorneys back to the proper mindset.

It typically starts with a conference room full of poster-sized notes pasted to the walls. These are the products of the focus group, and it is time to learn from them. We like to place them in the order they were created so we can assess what worked, and what did not work in the same incremental fashion as the Focus Group.

This is where the fun begins. We carefully review what we learned, good and bad. We re-work old theories and incorporate new ones. And when it is over, the trial attorneys will know the case like never before. The case is now part of their being.

A music performer on stage after months of preparation does not have to think about each note. The focus is on the music. It flows out effortlessly.

By the end of this step, the trial attorney becomes the artful music performer. The case is now within, and it will flow out.

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