The following is an interview conducted with AAJ President Lisa Blue, co-author of the Trial Guides "Little Blue Books" Preparing for Voir Dire and Conducting Voir Dire on her participation in the AAJ / Trial Guides two book set Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit, 4th Ed.
Trial Guides: Why write a chapter in Anatomy of a Personal Injury Lawsuit on mock trials and focus groups?
Lisa Blue: Because I think focus group and mock trials are important for every single case. If your case is important enough to take, it’s important enough to do some type of focus group to find out what your real issues are so you can have a successful result for your client.
Trial Guides: What do you think is the most common misunderstanding among trial lawyers about mock trials and focus groups?
Lisa Blue: I think the most common misunderstanding is really not being prepared with what you want to know. Because the purpose of a focus group is to find out how to handle the weaknesses in your case, to find out where the pitfalls are, to find out if there are specific types of jurors that have reaction to issues that are going to be important in your case.
I think every case should have a focus group. Every case cannot afford a focus group, and so the best thing is to learn how to do a focus group in house on those cases that really can’t merit an outside consultant. But if it’s a big enough case and the money’s there and you can do it’s always my recommendation to have a consultant.
Lisa Blue: I was a psychologist first and I treated a lot of trial lawyers as patients. Then one day I had a patient who’s also a trial lawyer who asked me if I’d like to go to court and help him pick a jury. And after I did that, I fell in love with the process and became a prosecutor, tried a lot of criminal cases and was so blessed and fortunate because I became a toxic tort lawyer and tried close to 100 environmental type cases, mainly asbestos.
Trial Guides: As both president of AAJ and a highly successful trial lawyer, what kind of responsibility do you feel towards mentoring new lawyers?
Lisa Blue: I think mentoring new lawyers is part of what we do. It’s part of our profession because mentoring new lawyers is our future. And for example, there are certain types of lawyers that don’t have to be concerned all the time with politics and dismantling the civil justice system. If we don’t mentor our new lawyers there will be no lawyers left to understand the importance of what we do and how we protect our clients’ rights.
Trial Guides: Why do we need more women trial lawyers?
Lisa Blue: We need more women trial lawyers because there’s so many women on our juries. We need women trial lawyers because there’s so much psychology and passion and communication skills that women are good at. And I think women make fabulous trial lawyers.
Trial Guides: Do you think there are any advantages to being a woman trial lawyer?
Lisa Blue: I think so because when you go to court and there are women on the jury, I think every woman is happy to see another woman succeed. Women want to see women get better jobs, have better pay, get more leadership positions, so I think there is a great advantage to being a female trial lawyer.
Trial Guides: Do you have any other things you’d like to get out to the profession in terms of practicing law as you start your time as AAJ President?
Lisa Blue: I do. What I would say about anyone who cares about the practice of law is that politics has to be part of your practice. And the reason politics matter, like my sweet husband used to say, is because there are people that want to dismantle the jury trial system. And if you dismantle the jury system then what you’ve done is you’ve made sure people who act poorly, corporations that hurt consumers will never be held responsible, so it is a part of your practice.