Rachel York, a litigation consultant with Magna Legal Services, has a doctorate in legal psychology from Florida International University and a B.A. in psychology and sociology from the University of Virginia. Magna Legal Services provide legal support services to law firms, corporations and governmental agencies across the nation.
What sort of education is needed to secure a good job in your field?
“Most jury consultants have graduate degrees in either psychology, law, or communications. Some level of education and/or training in research methodology and the law are important in our field.”
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
“There are several challenging, yet rewarding, aspects of jury consulting. One such challenge is quickly getting up to speed on a given case, becoming familiar with the ins and outs of both parties’ arguments and evidence, often learning new concepts along the way. Another challenging, but fundamental, aspect of jury consulting is analyzing the data gathered from jury research and reporting the results in such a way to provide our clients with the most useful feedback and recommendations possible regarding case strengths and weaknesses, key themes, and trial strategies.”
After graduation, how hard was it to transition to the actual working world?
“I interned as a research assistant and later worked as a consultant at a litigation consulting firm as a graduate student, so I was able to transition to the working world while finishing my degree. While I had a smooth experience, colleagues of mine that were not able to gain consulting experience through internships or part-time work during graduate school found the transition to the working world more difficult, as many firms are only willing to hire consultants with at least some prior experience.”
What are some advanced courses you would suggest that would be beneficial for this type of career?
“Along with the type of education needed to secure a position as a jury consultant, I would suggest pursuing a graduate education in psychology, law, communications, or some combination thereof. Courses on research methodology, cognitive and/or social-psychology, effective communication and persuasion strategies, and civil legal procedure would be particularly helpful.”
Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.