A mock trial is a simulated trial. It is done to practice litigators on how to best approach a case. It allows lawyers to get an idea of the feedback they would get from a jury if they actually tried a case and to review different angles and details. It shows the strengths and weaknesses of a particular approach, which side is likely to win and how much money would potentially be awarded in a civil case.
A mock trial is also done by firms to help them decide whether it is best to litigate or settle a particular case.
Schools also conduct mock trials. There are mock trials in the high school and collegiate level, as well as in law schools.
Mock trials are organized by legal consulting firms. They are a multi-million dollar business, with hundreds of firms providing trial consulting. Potential jurors in mock trials are in demand. These are chosen from people of various backgrounds in the community. Mock trials pay well for your time so it is an interesting way to make some cash.
If you are interested in participating in a mock trial, there are some things you can do.
1. Check your local community listings. Read the classifieds for any advertisements. It would be listed as “Mock Trial Juror” or “legal research participant”.
2. Browse online for legal research firms in your area that conduct mock trials for other litigators. Examples are signupdirect.com and surveymonkey.com. You can participate as an e-juror or online juror, complete questionnaires and be asked to answer questions in telephone interviews.
Completing the questionnaire is simple and only takes a few minutes. There is no fee to be paid. You will be contacted by email or a phone call if you are chosen.
3. If you live near a university or law school, check if they conduct mock trials and sign up with them as well. It won’t pay as much as a research firm, but it is good exposure.
4. You must qualify as a juror. Typically, you have to be of legal age, a US citizen and can read, write and understand English well. You will need to disclose personal information such religious affinity, race, gender, political preferences, annual income and if you have any handicap or felony convictions. This information is needed to help select a particular group of people needed for the specifics of a particular case. Be truthful about the information you submit. Also, you must be discreet about the details revealed during a mock trial.
5. Sign up with as many sites as possible to increase your chances of getting selected.
6. Be prepared to devote a full 8-hour weekend day or sometimes 2 full days for the mock trial. Some research firms conduct mock trials a few hours at night after work hours. Be sure to indicate your hours are flexible.
7. When you are asked to come in, dress business casual and come on time. Be honest about your feedback. The litigators or research firm people are looking for an authentic response from the “jury”.
As a participant, mock jurors get paid anywhere between $10 to $100 an hour, depending on the firm, your area, the complexity of the case and the length of time you will be needed.