Jury research and PLEI

March 21, 2007

Jury research is an huge field that’s all about something highly relevant to PLEI providers: how the general public perceives law, lawyers, and the courts. There are dozens of jury research firms. They consult with trial attorneys on how to best convey a message to a random cross-section of the public.

One of those firms, Animators at Law, has just released the results of its three-year study comparing the communication and learning styles of lawyers and nonlawyers. The full report is available online [716 KB PDF], but here are the principle findings:

  • Practicing attorneys and the general public communicate in significantly different ways.
  • The general public prefers learning visually by a significant majority.
  • Practicing attorneys, unlike most people, are not majority visual learners and communicators.

“One can reasonably conclude,” the report’s authors say, that “the attorneys who endeavor to communicate as effectively and efficiently as possible with [juries], may, in fact, not be doing so.” The study involved a survey of 387 lawyers and 1,657 nonlawyers in the US (is the Canadian bar and public different?).

This study is hardly the only work of jury research that might be relevant to PLEI. Jury instructions, after all, are a kind of public legal education, taught by judges in a formal setting. Jury instructions might be one the oldest forms of PLE, in fact! Yet in all of my research, I’ve found no evidence of the PLEI field examining to results of jury research. Should it be?

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One Response to “Jury research and PLEI”

  1. eppink Says:

    Everyone should note, however, that the firm that produced this study is in the business of making trial exhibits and animations—so it is convenient for them that jurors would learn through visuals.


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