Focus Groups are extremely useful at earlier stages of the proceedings (before your discovery and expert witness designation deadlines run) in testing juror reaction, understanding and opinion of the basic issues, facts, theories, and themes of a case.
Mock Trials are the best choice as you get closer to trial, as they give your trial team an opportunity to practice. Additionally, the more formal and structured setting allows us to collect very specific data and juror feedback regarding case elements, exhibits, arguments, and presentation style.
Case Fact and Issues Studies are great research tool for highly complex litigation matters (e.g. intellectual property, securities fraud, class actions, complex business transactions, anti-trust, etc.), where the stakes are high and the volume of information jurors need to assess the case is great. Like focus groups, a Case Fact and Issues Study should be conducted earlier on and as the first stage of jury research, but can be used as a “stand alone” methodology.
The Ideal Research Protocol is to start with a few Focus Groups or Case Fact and Issues Studies to obtain the juror and case intelligence that you need for settlement discussion and strategy purposes, and then, in the event the case does not settle, do Mock Trial research to test and fine-tune your trial strategy and case presentation to minimize risks and improve your chances of success.