Here are three scenarios in which a focus group can help you save time and money.
Have you ever had a person walk into your office with a potential case but you weren’t sure if it was good enough to pursue?
Scenario No. 1: A woman comes to you because her husband spent several days in the hospital and is now permanently injured due to food poisoning. The husband had gone to a farmers market and purchased some vegetables which caused the food poisoning.
The damages and injuries are significant. Clients are decent folks. Causation is clear. Sounds pretty good, right?
But what about liability? Would a jury find a local farmer responsible for food poisoning?
This was a real scenario and the lawyer took the facts to a focus group. Actually, two focus groups! Each focus group was given the facts and asked who, if anyone, should be responsible for the injuries. Both groups said that the farmer was not responsible, nor was anyone else. The buyer should be aware of the risks of buying food from a farmers market.
In the above example, the focus group gave insight as to how a jury might lean in a potential case. The lawyer has important data to decide whether to sign-up the client and start investing money in the case.
Have you ever taken a potential case but you weren’t sure if the facts were strong enough to put responsibility on correct wrongdoers?
Scenario No. 2: Recently, I had a case brought for me to focus group. The lawyers involved were unsure if liability was strong on a specific defendant. The client was permanently injured at a work site and needed a lifetime of medical care. The case had four potential defendants but only one of defendants had a viable recovery source of insurance.
We took the case to the focus group and asked where the responsibility fell between the five possible parties (note: you should always include your client as a possible responsible party). The focus group returned a ‘no’ for our target defendant, so the attorneys did not proceed.
Focus groups can also test the strength of liability or damages before filing a lawsuit and spending additional money and time.
Have you ever worked-up a case but you weren’t sure if the settlement offer was an accurate value?
Scenario No 3: Client is in a car wreck and receives some significant injuries (broken bones). Client is treated for about a year and, ultimately, returns back to great health. You do your casework and send out a demand to the at-fault insurance carrier. The insurance carrier gives you a decent offer, but not the best offer. As the lawyer, you need to weigh pros/cons of litigation and trial against the settlement offer.
In this instance, you would give focus group participants the full picture of injuries and recovery. Their comments and responses can give vital signals as to the strength of the damages. A caveat is to be wary of the numbers a focus group gives in answering questions about value. The key is to ask the participants which facts they relied upon when determining the value.
Focus groups are also useful in pre-litigation cases with a decent settlement offer to help you advise the client how much a jury would allow in a verdict.
In each scenario, a focus group offers the lawyer objective feedback to us when deciding which cases to pursue. As you know, prosecuting cases takes your time, energy, and your money. You want to choose cases carefully because your office, your employees and your family depend it!
Using focus groups before litigation can provide priceless yet low-cost information to help you decide whether to file a lawsuit, take a pre-litigation offer or accept a case.
Do you have a case in your office right now that you’re unsure about? A one-hour focus group can help you find out how strong the case is. I run focus groups each month and have openings for this exact purpose. Give me a call or shoot me an email to see how a focus group can help!