Few people have more experience with jury selection than Harry and Claire Plotkin. Over the past 20 years, their expertise in picking the right jury has helped attorneys recover over $2 Billion in over 800 trials. The California-based husband and wife team turn to values, beliefs, and expectations to help craft the ideal jury. They help attorneys focus on the most important aspect – creating a bond with each juror. We discuss why jurors make value-based decisions – and what to do about it. And the best open-ended questions to ask a potential juror, the right way to uncover their true feelings, and what to avoid. We cover jury selection myths and what chess has to do with jury selection.
- Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Demographics do not tell a complete story. To understand the feelings of a juror, ask open-ended questions and accept what they have to say.
- Be willing to listen. When asking questions, be willing to talk as little as possible. Aim for listening 90% of the time.
- Get comfortable with tech in the courtroom. Younger jurors expect evidence presented quickly and, often, with visual components. If something negative happens, they expect there to be video evidence of the incident.
Maria Monroy, LawRank, Harry Plotkin, and Claire Plotkin
Harry Plotkin (00:00:00):
You got to just be a human being first, especially during jury selection.
Claire Plotkin (00:00:03):
It’s hard to really know how it’s going to go. You hope for the best and you think you’ve given them the best chance to succeed.
Maria Monroy (00:00:09):
What’s your strategy?
Harry Plotkin (00:00:11):
I’m pretty aggressive. I never bluff. I would never accept a jury, even if I thought the defense was going to keep striking. If they were to accept the jury right now, I’d be like, “Oh, shit, I screwed up.”
Maria Monroy (00:00:21):
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Maria Monroy, co-founder and president of LawRank, a leading SEO agency for ambitious law firms. Each week, we hear from the industry leaders on what it really takes to run a law firm for marketing to manifestation. Because success lies in the balance of life and law, we’re here to help you tip the scales.
To recover the most for your client, you have to pick the right jury. Knowing what to look for and the right questions to ask comes with experience. Few people have more experience with jury selection than Harry and
Claire Plotkin. Together, they have helped select over 800 juries and recover over $2 billion over the past 20 years. The California-based consultants have some amazing insights for us. Today, we get into why jurors make value-based decisions and what to do about it, the best open-ended questions to ask a potential juror, the right way to connect and get their true feelings, which big mistakes to avoid and my favorite, what to do about young jurors. They might not be as bad as you think but first, Harry shares how he got into jury consulting.
Harry Plotkin (00:01:59):
Right out of college, I was working for some experts and I have this background in psychology and that’s where my interest was, but I was doing some really boring crunching numbers for expert economists and a bunch of the lawyers who were working with us came to me and said, “Hey, how do I…” They found out I had a background in psychology and they asked me, “How do I explain all this really boring, complex stuff that your bosses are testifying in my trials? How do I explain that to a jury? How do I show it in a picture?” And so I started designing demonstratives and helping them to explain things and do framing before I even knew that this was a job.
And then eventually, after a few months, one of them was nice enough to tell me, “Hey, what you’re doing is actually… This is a real job” but I had no clue. I was doing jury consulting before I was a jury consultant and so I eventually started working with a couple of people I knew that were starting their own jury consulting company. And I spent a few years just watching focus groups, watching trials, learning about it before I started doing it myself and spun off my own practice in 2006 and have been doing it full time nonstop ever since.
Maria Monroy (00:03:06):
And when did Claire join you?
Claire Plotkin (00:03:07):
I started working with Harry actually when we were dating, when I was maybe a senior in college because I wanted to go to law school. So I started working at his focus groups so that I could see which kind of law I would like to do. And not only did I have a bunch of lawyers tell me that you shouldn’t become a lawyer, but I also discovered that I just really liked… Because I’m a very extroverted person and I really like dealing with people and I felt like this maybe was a better fit for me than all the paperwork and stuff that is being a lawyer, so that’s how I started.
Maria Monroy (00:03:49):
And what’s it like working together? Because you guys are married, let me make that clear, correct?
Claire Plotkin (00:03:53):
Harry Plotkin (00:03:53):
Maria Monroy (00:03:53):
You have children as well?
Claire Plotkin (00:03:55):
Harry Plotkin (00:03:56):
We do. We have two young kids and [inaudible 00:03:59] this all the time, “Did you guys meet when you were both jury consultants?” It was yeah, totally the other way around. I roped Claire after we were married into being a jury consultant and so basically, she was really fascinated by it. She had a great aptitude for it. She spent probably a couple of years basically just trailing me, coming to every single trial and every single focus group, which I miss… Now that we have young kids, that’s just not going to happen anymore, unfortunately, across the country sometimes. Before, she was awesome and able to do it on her own. But yeah, it’s always fun balancing the two young kids, six and eight, with crazy trial schedule.
Claire Plotkin (00:04:37):
Maria Monroy (00:04:38):
And working together. I work with my husband as well so I know all the good, bad and the ugly. Claire, what’s it like for you working with Harry?
Claire Plotkin (00:04:48):
I’ve always really enjoyed it. When I came out of college, I briefly tried two other careers actually because we had just gotten married and I had a lot of people in my ear saying that you don’t want to work with your spouse. I discovered I really didn’t like either one of them nearly as much as doing jury consulting and working together. So I’ve never really known them apart, so I’m happy with it the way that it is and we don’t do actually that much work together anymore, but I would say that a lot of our non-kid discussions revolve around the job, which is true, which that can be tiresome sometimes. Work bleeds into all hours of the day but I think we also both really like it, so it ends up being, for the most part, really good and we’re always thinking and always bouncing ideas off of each other. So I like that part.
Maria Monroy (00:05:44):
Oh, absolutely. Mariano paused… What’s the new Game of Thrones prequel called? House of Dragon? He paused it the other day at 10:00 PM on Sunday to talk to me about work. I was not very happy about it, I’m not going to lie. I was like, “I really just want to watch my show.” So I’ve definitely been there. When most people get summoned for jury duty, they are not excited about it, but what kind of jurors are you looking for when you’re making the selection? Does it depend on the case? How does that work?
Claire Plotkin (00:06:12):
That really depends on the case.
Maria Monroy (00:06:16):
Such a lawyer answer.
Claire Plotkin (00:06:18):
Yeah, I wouldn’t say-
Maria Monroy (00:06:18):
You’re not lawyers, you’re not allowed to give any lawyer answers.
Claire Plotkin (00:06:19):
Oh but no, but I think it does everyone a disservice if they think that we’re looking for a specific person for every case because it’s not the truth, and there is no cookie cutter recipe for a good juror. Harry and I have seen this time and time again. For example, you might see a juror in a focus group five years before and they were a terrible juror and then on a different case, they’re actually wonderful and so I would hate to put people in a box and say, “I always want teachers.” No, that’s not true.
Harry Plotkin (00:06:45):
It totally depends on what’s going to set a person off one way or the other. And like Claire said, I mean, I’ve seen it a million times where we’ll be doing a focus group on a case and one of us maybe, exactly a couple years before, has had the same juror and one of us may say, “Oh man, I did this personal injury case and they were the worst juror in the world” and I come back and I’m like, “That person gave tons of money in the focus group because it was a sexual abuse case and they’re totally different in how they approach it”, so there’s no such thing really as a person who’s always a good plaintiff juror or always a defense juror. We don’t rely, like Claire was saying, on demographics. Even on jobs, it’s really just what their values are, what their beliefs are, what their expectations are that totally can set them off one way or the other.
And one of the main things I always teach is standards. If they are used to really high standards of safety or good quality, testing my doctors or whatever it is, and what they see in the trial is fall short of it, they’re going to be really good for the plaintiff. And if they’re people who have really low standards and they’re like, I’ve been in, I’ll use a medical malpractice case. If they’re like, every time I’ve been to the ER it takes me four hours and the doctor comes in before I see a doctor and they come in and they barely do anything, they actually tend to be pretty bad because they’re like, “What this doctor did wasn’t that unusual”, and so it just depends on what they’ve seen and what their values are in that particular case we always write totally different questions and jury selection for the lawyers to ask just based on the unique issues of the case.
Maria Monroy (00:08:17):
And why is it that jurors make their decision or vote based on their values versus the law or the facts in front of them?
Harry Plotkin (00:08:28):
Who’s right or who’s wrong? In most of these cases, it’s obviously in the eye of the beholder. And in simple cases, it’s really a little different than criminal cases. In criminal cases, it’s like “What happened? Did this guy do it?” In simple cases, everyone agrees on what happened. Just was that right or wrong? Was that dangerous or was that not dangerous? Was that reasonable or not? And so people are really just substituting their judgment for, “Hey, I don’t think that was that bad.” I think companies should be super careful and these people were careless and other people saying, what can people do? Companies can’t protect everybody. They really have the right to shape what they think is fair and unfair even when they’re trying to follow the law, two jurors who have totally different ideas about what’s fair will totally interpret the law two different ways it’s one of those weird things that just comes down to who’s on your jury.
Maria Monroy (00:09:40):
Let’s say there’s a lawyer that it’s their first trial and they have to do jury selection, and they want to do it themselves. What advice would you give them?
Harry Plotkin (00:09:52):
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t base who you’re striking on weird things like I want older people or younger people or men and women, really get to know the things that matter. If it’s a case about safety, just get them talking about what the responsibilities are of people to keep themselves safe at companies, to keep us safe, whatever the issues are and just listen to them because you can figure out pretty quickly who are the ones who have a really… Thinks that there’s a lot of responsibility on the defense side versus the consumer or the person side. I’ve had jurors say, “Man, if I couldn’t play golf ever again, that would be the worst.”
Some people are like, “Golf is the most frivolous thing in the world” and some people who say “Suck it up. You get hurt, suck it up.” I had a trial recently a couple weeks ago where some of the jurors were talking about, I just think if you get injured and you can’t do what you love, find something else. Doesn’t matter what it is. And other jurors who were like, “That would be horrible” so just talk to them about what your case is going to be about without putting words in their mouth or without arguing with them be willing to listen. You should be, as a lawyer, listening to them 90% of the time and trying to talk as little as you can, little as a lawyer can at least.
Maria Monroy (00:11:07):
And can you give some examples of open-ended questions that lawyers should be asking to make sure that they do get the jurors talking?
Harry Plotkin (00:11:16):
Sure. What are your feelings about whether companies that make products should have to safety test and how much safety testing they should have to do before? What are your feelings about whether you think landlords should have to actually proactively come out and inspect their property or it’s okay for them to wait until somebody calls in a problem? Lawyers are always worried about jurors withholding or are they going to be stealth jurors who are lying to me. It’s impossible for a juror to lie if you make them answer an open-ended question. It’s really hard to just come up with a whole story of why you feel that way.
Maria Monroy (00:11:53):
But do you know if they’re lying?
Harry Plotkin (00:11:54):
I think it’s overrated how many lie, but I do think that there’s a lot of jurors who have strong feelings and they don’t want to express them they hold back and they just sit there saying, “I can be fair. I can follow the law.” If that’s all you’re asking them, Are you okay with awarding money for pain and suffering? I’ll do what the law says, I can be fair. That’s really easy for them they’re thinking, I have some issues with those things and I’m not going to give you a lot they’re not saying those things. It’s really hard for them to lie, to actually lie or convince me otherwise if you ask them an open-ended question, and I’ll ask jurors all the time, we’ll have lawyers ask them, How do you feel about the idea of giving money, putting, compensating someone with money for something like pain and suffering that really can’t be fixed because someone who really has some issues with it or rubs in the wrong way are never going to be along the spot. Say, I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s really important they’re going to say things like, Well I’ll do what the law says and you go, That’s nice, but why do you feel about it? And they really have a hard time if they really feel strongly in a good way about it. I can always figure out if they’re lying, if they’re dodging the question or withholding it, so you got to just get them asking, Tell me more how you feel because you can’t withhold like that.
Maria Monroy (00:13:11):
Have you read a book by Chris Voss, Never Split the Difference?
Harry Plotkin (00:13:17):
I have not, unfortunately. No but that’s [inaudible 00:13:20]
Maria Monroy (00:13:19):
So he was an FBI negotiator. I’ll send it to you, but he has a chapter in his book that he talks about mirroring and probing, right? Let’s say somebody says something but it’s not very open-ended, you just repeat what they said but in a question format. So if you said I had a rough day, I would say you had a rough day? And that get supposedly gets people talking, Do you do things like that or no, I’m just curious. This is fascinating, by the way.
Harry Plotkin (00:13:48):
I’ve never done that so much. I know that there are lawyers who do all kinds of different mirroring and group formation things and that’s all great when they do it. It’s hard for me to teach. Unfortunately, Claire and I don’t always have the time to spend a lot of time teaching skills to the lawyers. We’re just showing up in court and we will set them the questions we wanted to ask but I think that the good thing with jurors is that probably when you’re in the FBI or law enforcement, you’re dealing with a lot of sociopaths who are good at lying and jurors are, most jurors are just pissed off and they don’t want to be there necessarily they’re not there to sneak their way on a jury it’s probably very few and far between that someone’s actually tried to go to that length to try to mislead somebody.
But when I have the lawyers asking them questions the best way, just be friendly and give the appearance that there’s no right or wrong answers. I’m not going to judge you either way. The worst thing a lawyer can do is to get a bad answer and they start arguing or cross-examining the juror or debating with them because that not only shuts down that juror, but everybody else who agrees with that juror that you want to find out is like, “Oh, I don’t want to get cross-examined. I’m just going to agree with this lawyer” and so the best thing they can do is just tell me more about that and not judge them and thank him and who else feels that way? And that’s a skill that sounds easy but isn’t done nearly often enough from what Claire and I will see.
Maria Monroy (00:15:11):
How long does jury selection typically take?
Harry Plotkin (00:15:15):
If it’s in federal court, it could take half a day. If it’s in the State court here in LA, it’ll probably at least two days, sometimes three, but we’ve had ones that have taken, I mean, I’ve heard of longer ones. The longest one I’ve ever done is probably six days. And I’ve heard of some folks taking a couple weeks. I’ve never been in a jury selection that took more than that.
Claire Plotkin (00:15:35):
The last one we’d heard of that took more than a few weeks was because it was not even a full week of trial, it was only three-day courtroom, so that can make it last much longer. But yeah, no, our schedulers are so busy it’s hard to do two, three week jury selection because we would be turning down other cases.
Harry Plotkin (00:15:55):
The funny thing too is that jury selection is such an important part of trial, I mean, it’s by far the most important part so there are times, I was just talking this weekend with the lawyer who was saying, most lawyers will tell judges when they want to cut down on jury selection, “Give me more time for jury selection and just cut off, I mean, I’ll give me an extra day on jury selection and I’ll save a day in the trial. I mean I picked one with a jury a couple weeks ago in Santa Monica with Dan Kramer where we spent longer picking the jury than the presentation of evidence, took us three full states picked the jury and I think it only took two and a half days to put on the trial and it worked out great. So it’s one of those weird things, I mean for judges, they don’t always love it, that jury selection has taken forever, but it’s just so important that it’s hard to rush it.
Maria Monroy (00:16:43):
What’s the benefit to hiring you guys or someone like you to assist in the jury selection process? Because I assume a lot of lawyers feel like they can do it themselves. It’s something that they just consider part of it. So where does the benefit come in?
Claire Plotkin (00:17:03):
Well, I would say just at the very most basic benefit, the idea of having a second pair of eyes and somebody who can sit there taking your notes, that’s so many lawyers, I didn’t even have to give them insight. They’re already impressed because it’s so hard for a lawyer to take notes and really bond with the jury. So that’s the first step. We take that completely out of your hands but then I think of course, there’s so much more than that. I mean, Harry’s done probably, I don’t know, 700 trials or something ridiculous like that. I’ve done 150. We’ve done more trials than every person we are working with for the most part there is who have, not only do we have a good advice for your trial there, but we have all the other trials we’ve seen, so a wealth of experience and all the focus groups we’ve done, we’ve just seen way more jurors than the lawyers we’ve worked with have. So besides just all the analysis we’ve done on your case, I feel like those are all the ways we’re helpful just right off the bat.
Maria Monroy (00:18:14):
That’s amazing. 700 trials, Harry. That’s absurd.
Harry Plotkin (00:18:18):
Yeah, that’s how many juries I’ve picked.
Maria Monroy (00:18:19):
That’s a lot of jurors. And the fact that you guys mentioned that you’ve seen a juror in two different trials, that’s also nuts. That would never occur to me that you would run into the same juror.
Harry Plotkin (00:18:33):
Oh no, it’s not that-
Maria Monroy (00:18:34):
Harry Plotkin (00:18:34):
It’s not two different trials, it’s two different focus groups for cases. So they’re sitting there here in the case and making the decision. I have a couple times, I mean, I have seen a juror once in trial that was in our focus groups and the other way around, once I saw a juror in a focus group that had been a juror in our trial a year before, which is funny, that has happened, which is a little weird.
Claire Plotkin (00:19:02):
Who was a priest. He was a priest, too, which makes it even weirder.
Harry Plotkin (00:19:02):
It was a chaplain or something.
Claire Plotkin (00:19:03):
What a weird, what is very small circle of people.
Harry Plotkin (00:19:07):
I know, especially in that way that’s knowing me is a good way to get after your duty too. I’ve gotten probably at least 10 different friends and family members off jury duty because we just happen to be, they’ll show up to the courtroom and I’m in there in the trial and they know me.
Maria Monroy (00:19:21):
Yeah, you can’t, right? It’s automatically a conflict or no?
Harry Plotkin (00:19:25):
No, not automatically, no. I mean, I’ve had people that know me say “No, it wouldn’t be an issue, he wouldn’t affect me and he’s not even a lawyer necessarily, but I’ve had some that if they want off it’s just like yeah, I know him and I’m friends with him and I probably would just subconsciously side with his side because he’s such a good friend of mine or something like that, or the other side just doesn’t want him, so it’s happened before. I’ve had gotten not bad jurors a friend of mine who was a defense lawyer who would’ve been awful in the case. We got her off automatically because she knew me.
Maria Monroy (00:19:58):
And probably every lawyer knows how to get out of jury duty but I don’t, not that I live in the states right now, but how do I that?
Harry Plotkin (00:20:08):
Oh, gosh. Claire, you want to take this one?
Claire Plotkin (00:20:10):
I frankly always tell people “If you want to get off, you just talk a lot about the issues that are being asked.” Usually, if you raise a lot of opinions, one or the other side is not going to want you.
Maria Monroy (00:20:23):
Well, that’s so easy for me.
Claire Plotkin (00:20:26):
I think the people who are quiet… Yeah. The people who are quiet, and I don’t make stuff up, be honest, but the people who are quiet and don’t say much, they tend to get left on.
Maria Monroy (00:20:34):
Yeah. Interesting. Why do you think that is?
Claire Plotkin (00:20:38):
Well, I mean, if it’s a police brutality case and you have opinions on police brutality, one way or the other, those are powerful opinions. If you, for example, hate police officers, why is the attorney for the police officer going to leave you on? Right? That’s why if you become very vocal about it and you’re making your… Because most people have opinions about things like this. The problem is just some people just don’t really, either they don’t have strong opinions and then they stay on or they have really strong opinions and then they make the other side very nervous, right? So that would be my first point. Would Harry, would you say anything differently?
Harry Plotkin (00:21:17):
Yeah, I mean if you’re a lawyer and you’re, imagine you’re what you’re in interviewing like 18 jurors at once or maybe even more like people who are just sitting there, got nothing to say, they get lost and you’ll never strike them but the ones who they keep hearing, the more you talk and the stronger your opinions are, the more something’s going to pop on their radar that they’re going to be nervous about you. You’re always worried that judges are going to think that you’re lying and trying to get off the jury. So actually, I tell people “You want to get off the jury? Just say… Just keep insisting I would love to be on this jury. I think I can be totally fair, but I think that every police officer is a lying sack of whatever and I think that lawyers are…” You say those things. Someone’s going to get rid of you.
Maria Monroy (00:21:58):
Now, Claire was saying that one of the benefits of having you guys help in the jury selection process is that you guys take notes for the lawyers or the lawyer can bond with the jurors. What happens after that? Can you just walk me through it from your perspective, Harry?
Harry Plotkin (00:22:17):
Sure. So I’m there the whole time watching the jurors taking notes, figuring out when a juror is saying something may be a little controversial or interesting, which jurors are rolling their eyes and which jurors are not in their heads and which jurors are going no or which jurors are… So when I’m taking the notes, I’m not only doing that but I’m also figuring out who are the really bad ones, Who are the ones I need to get rid of? Who are the jurors I like? Who are the jurors that are followers and I don’t have to worry about so that by the time, because it can go pretty quick in court when the time both sides sit down and they’re done. First of all, I’ll hand the lawyers a sheet of paper. Here are all the people that we should make motions to get rid of for cause to the judge and exactly what they said.
So the lawyer could just have the piece of paper and say hey, we’d like to excuse have juror number six excuse for cause because she said all lawyers suck and your plaintiff looks like a liar and a fraud and blah blah blah. Most lawyers would hire us these days do trust us a lot and trust our judgment. There’s a whole chess match about striking jurors because you can pass at times and save strikes and you can strike people and get certain jurors on so we’re there with the strategy of jury selection is a huge part of it we’re always telling them, okay now strike jump juror number two now and now they’re probably going to strike this juror and then the juror’s pretty good so we’ll pass and then they’ll probably keep striking and so we’re there pretty much telling them what to do to put together the best jury and looking several strikes down and who the jurors in the back and who are the ones who were coming up. There’s a whole crazy chess match strategy to all that we are a big part of.
Maria Monroy (00:23:53):
Was there a particular jury selection that was really difficult, that you were like, “This is just so much more difficult than anything else”, or are they all pretty similar?
Harry Plotkin (00:24:05):
They’re somewhat similar, but the less time that you get, especially in federal court, sometimes in federal court, the judges don’t give the lawyers any time to ask questions. It’s just the judge reading a few questions and you’re just guessing. I mean, all you know about them is that guy over there is a bank teller and she’s a, works at a Vaughn’s or whatever and that’s all you know. So those are always tough because you’re guessing a lot more and making assumptions a lot more. The toughest ones though are probably when there’s some really strong issue and both sides are getting people off for cause left and right, so it just takes a million years to find jurors who are claimed to be impartial. And then with those folks and maybe only the people who were left are the ones who barely said anything other than I can be impartial and you don’t know that much about them. The lawyers who do a good job actually asking our questions and asking good open-ended questions, getting information makes it so much easier for us to not have to guess.
Maria Monroy (00:25:02):
Do you use your intuition as well?
Harry Plotkin (00:25:06):
Definitely. There’s always a part. Go ahead, Claire.
Claire Plotkin (00:25:11):
Of course, the female is like, yes, yes, yes.
No, actually, what I was going to say is actually, that’s one thing I feel like we’ve done haw to do less post-Covid. Masks make it very hard for you to just try to read somebody, so you have to be more reliant on your questions and how they answer. You know what I mean? Because you’re not really making, if you pride, and a lot of lawyers struggle with this a lot because if you pride yourself on looking at somebody and making some emotional connection or assessment of them by how you know are interacting, the mask takes that all away. Like 95% of that has been taken away you’re really reliant. I think a lot of lawyers in the past skated by with asking very simplistic questions, but we’re able to look at jurors and assess them and did better by that. And I feel like that has been taken away from them and it’s made it a whole new world because most jurors are still masked in court. I would say in Los Angeles, it’s still 80% are masked.
Maria Monroy (00:26:21):
That’s crazy, but if they’re masked-
Claire Plotkin (00:26:23):
Unless they’re on the downtown [inaudible 00:26:24]
Maria Monroy (00:26:24):
Wait, but if they’re masked, do you assume that they’re Democrats?
Claire Plotkin (00:26:34):
It doesn’t matter to me, really. I mean, depends on the case.
Maria Monroy (00:26:34):
So that doesn’t play at all?
Harry Plotkin (00:26:36):
No, I mean, and that’s something that a lot of lawyers put a lot of stock in that’s really a myth that it matters what their political backgrounds are to some degree but one of the interesting things-
Maria Monroy (00:26:50):
Wait, can we talk about that a little bit more? Why is that a myth? Why do you believe that it’s a myth that their political background, that it shouldn’t matter or not as much?
Harry Plotkin (00:27:02):
Lawyers tend to believe that people who think them are going to be more rational and smart and get it and have good values and therefore they mix that with life. And if you agree with our case, that means you have good values, so the two things go together. It’s not really the case. I’ve seen amazing pro plaintiff jurors on both sides of the spectrum and I’ve seen horrible ones on, I’ve seen super liberal jurors who are horrible for plaintiffs.
I’ve had a lot of juries in the last year that some of our best jurors were like, we had one I picked with Bob Simon, but our favorite juror in that case, and it was a injury case with a trucking case, was a big trucker who the second day of jury selection, he had a big T-shirt that said, “Let’s Go Brandon” on it. He was our favorite juror by far and he was amazing. He wanted to give us $30 million in this case. And every day, we’d be texting him, he’d be like, “Oh Harry, Let’s Go Brandon was shaking his head during the defense closing” and Let’s Go Brandon was laughing at the defense experts and everything. Well, we love that guy.
Maria Monroy (00:28:03):
I love this. Claire, what are some other myths when picking a jury selection?
Claire Plotkin (00:28:11):
One of the major myths is women are better than men. I mean, I think it really depends on the case. And Maria, I know you [inaudible 00:28:20] that not-
Maria Monroy (00:28:19):
We are always better than men, Claire.
Claire Plotkin (00:28:22):
No, but no two women are alike, right? You would agree with that, right?
Maria Monroy (00:28:25):
Claire Plotkin (00:28:27):
And there are many cases where women are actually predominantly, can be predominantly worse or much harder on another woman. You know this, you’ve seen this phenomenon.
Maria Monroy (00:28:37):
Claire Plotkin (00:28:38):
For example, a sexual harassment case. Some women can be terrible jurors. So that would be one major misconception. Another one is that people who really have had either really injured are going to be good in injury cases or people who have disabled children are going to be really good in an injury case because they care for somebody who is needy, has needs so then they’ll understand a plaintiff with needs. Neither one of those is true either. If anything, I feel like people who’ve had significant injuries can be quite terrible or people who live with chronic pain can be really bad for a plaintiff who has pain. I had a jury a few months ago where our client was a autism counselor who got very injured and we left a nurse on who had autistic children and the plaintiff lawyer was like, “She’s going to be awesome. She’s going to love our injured client because she’s an autism counselor and her kids are autistic.” She was our worst juror, the one badger. So it’s just the same [inaudible 00:29:48]
Maria Monroy (00:29:48):
Interesting. Why do you think that is?
Harry Plotkin (00:29:51):
The reason that is, is because your best jurors, when you’re asking them to put a value on something terrible that’s happened to someone, are the people who are going to say, “I can’t even imagine how bad that would be.” “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be paralyzed and be in a wheelchair in my life.” “That’s worth, oh my gosh, that’s millions and tens of millions of dollars.” And somebody who’s lived through it even though they may be-
Maria Monroy (00:30:12):
So they’re desensitized?
Harry Plotkin (00:30:16):
Yeah. And even if they’re sympathetic and they realize it’s terrible, those people are, they say, “But I get it and you can live through it” and they’re not shocked. And so to them, it’s like “That’s not worth millions and millions necessarily.” They’ll give you money and they’ll feel bad some of the times, but also people who’ve been through a lot of suffering in their lives or kids, they really tend to be really desensitized and they say, “Hey, basically they have this outlook of life sucks, everybody suffers. Life’s not meant to be happy.”
Maria Monroy (00:30:47):
It’s like the student loan thing, right?
Harry Plotkin (00:30:50):
Maria Monroy (00:30:50):
We see it with the student loans, right? I paid off my student loans, why do you get… And I’m just thinking, we have no control where the taxes go at this point, right? We should be asking where money’s going. At this point, who cares where it goes? Thank God that my little brother doesn’t have to pay for student loans anymore.
Claire Plotkin (00:31:07):
That student loan thing is a whole nother phenomenon too that we see a lot, which is this idea that people make choices and they should take responsibility for their choices. I mean, it’s like they would call it something called personal responsibility, and those people tend to be very damaging to plaintiffs too. People don’t take enough personal responsibility for their actions, and those are the kind of people who say, you’ve heard this Maria, “Oh, she got sexually harassed because of what she was wearing”, right? These choices you made put you in this position. It’s not what everybody else did to you, it’s what you did to yourself. The choices you made that put yourself in [inaudible 00:31:47]. People are terrible too. They really are.
Maria Monroy (00:31:49):
Harry Plotkin (00:31:49):
I’ve had jurors-
Maria Monroy (00:31:51):
No, I could see that. I mean, that makes perfect sense.
Harry Plotkin (00:31:55):
I’ve had jurors in cases involving motorcyclists getting hurt. I’ve had many jurors, I always ask this question, I always say, “Do any of you feel like even if a motorcyclist gets hit by a car and even if the motorcyclist says zero, did nothing wrong, they’re going the speed limit, they didn’t do anything wrong, the other car totally was 100% at fault, the other car runs red light or something, how many of you feel like the motorcyclist should still blame themself for getting injured because they chose to ride a motorcycle?” And there’s always people who say, “I’m going to blame the motorcyclist. Of course, you’re going to get hurt. You’re going to eventually get hurt and riding a motorcycle, you knew the dangers-”
Claire Plotkin (00:32:32):
You chose to ride something that has no doors.
Maria Monroy (00:32:34):
Harry Plotkin (00:32:35):
Yeah, or just-
Maria Monroy (00:32:37):
He chose to ride something that has no doors.
Harry Plotkin (00:32:39):
You bought the ticket to that [inaudible 00:32:41] game.
Maria Monroy (00:32:40):
They really said that to you?
Harry Plotkin (00:32:42):
You bought a ticket to the Dodger game, so if you get hit in the face by a line drive, it doesn’t matter who’s going to… So yeah, so personal responsibilities is a big thing but yeah, let’s talk about younger jurors because younger jurors are really interesting and we’ve done a lot of research and articles on that. What do you want to know about younger jurors?
Maria Monroy (00:33:02):
Everything. I’m fascinated by this younger generation. I wonder how they’re going to turn out.
Claire Plotkin (00:33:08):
My first thought about younger jurors is that it’s really hilarious because neither side ever wants them. They’re so funny. They’re like the hot potato that both sides want to pass. It’s very strange. I mean, it really depends on the kind of case. I think in employment cases, with harassment, discrimination, racism at work, younger jurors can kill the defense because they have really high standards for what they expect is, I mean, you’ve heard this, all the things that they say in high school now about their boundaries and you can’t say these microaggressions, all these things, they have very high standards for what’s acceptable and so they can be very good. Harry?
Harry Plotkin (00:33:55):
I agree with Claire that both sides, and the reason that both sides are terrified of younger jurors are plaintiff lawyers will say they don’t have enough life experience to understand pain and suffering and all these things, and the defense lawyers are all thinking they’re not as smart and rational and they’re totally illogical. They don’t know the value of a dollar, they’ll give away $100 million like it’s nothing and so both sides are terrified of them. And what I always teach is younger jurors really aren’t better or worse necessarily, they’re different. On either side, there’s really great pro plaintiff younger jurors that I’ve kept and have been amazing and there’s ones who are just awful, and a lot of them are can be awful, especially the ones who don’t want to be there, but they’re just totally different.
It depends on your case but one thing I always teach is that think about how they were raised. Younger jurors were raised in a time when in employment cases where nobody is working 50 years for the same company and getting a pension, so if you have a juror that’s under the age of, I don’t know, 40 or at least 35 or something, none of those jurors are going to think that companies should, everyone’s going to have a job forever. And most of them are thinking yeah, they get promoted or move ahead in your career, you’re probably going to have to leave the company and so it’s not quite as big a deal if somebody loses their job after 20 years, but at the same time, and older jurors have obviously are more like, “Oh my God, I know people who’ve who worked their whole career.” My mom worked for the same company pretty much her whole career.
But also, you need to understand that younger jurors are also lived in a time where their safety has always been super high standards. They’ve never probably driven in a car that didn’t have airbags, never driven in a car… They don’t remember a time that where there were no seat belts or seat belts were optional, smoking sections on planes. Older jurors will say, “Hey, I remember a time when my teacher could hit me if I was bad in school” and younger jurors are like “Teachers are not even allowed to give me a hug” there’s all these rules on the playground. The playground is all padded and everything and so they totally have different expectations about the world and so you got to keep in mind, the younger jurors have just totally different views than older people about the safety of products and what corporations have to do and their responsibilities. I found that younger people are way more cynical about corporations.
They’re not shocked when corporations lie or are dishonest because they’re like, “Come on. Everybody knows that”, whereas, older jurors are more like, “Oh my god, they’re supposed to be telling the truth” but younger jurors are way more likely to believe it if you try to convince them that a company lied or did something unsafe because they’re like, “Yeah, that’s…” Whereas older jurors are a little harder to sell on those things. So they’re just totally different. And it’s funny when you had a jury with a bunch of younger people and older people on it, watching them argue about two different things.
Claire Plotkin (00:36:58):
One thing I’ve noticed too is that they are, first of all, not only do they have very high expectations of supervision, like Harry was saying, I mean, no young kids go out and play in the dark by themselves anymore, so they have very [inaudible 00:37:13] with that, but they also have very high expectations of the lawyers when it comes to working quickly, presenting your evidence quickly, being technologically savvy. I have noticed that in injury cases where they’re on a premises liability cases, they expect security cameras or cell phone footage because they’ve grown up in this life where everybody has a video of an incident when it happens. And if there isn’t a video, they are suspicious of it. I feel like they’re probably more difficult on he said, she said type cases because in their opinion, there is no such thing as a he said, she said anymore. If something negative happened, someone videoed it. I mean, that’s a reality that we’re coming to now, especially in these last what, couple years.
Maria Monroy (00:38:04):
And have you noticed a difference in the way people feel about young jurors from the early two thousands to now?
Harry Plotkin (00:38:16):
Not so much. I think the lawyers feel the same way about them, but I think there’s always still a lot of assumptions that get made by the lawyers about being afraid of them. I think both sides first, then and now, are really more nervous, for some reason, about a young juror because most lawyers are not younger. I think the younger lawyers are probably better about really trusting them or at least taking them, judging them based on their own personalities I think but so many lawyers are older that they’re just like, “I don’t get them, I don’t understand them. Who knows what they’re going to do? Are they going to decide this case based on TikTok or something or whatever?” I don’t know. So I think they feel the same way. It’s just a generational thing. As the lawyers get older, they probably trust younger jurors less.
Maria Monroy (00:39:07):
But should they be weary of younger jurors or no?
Harry Plotkin (00:39:12):
I don’t think anymore-
Claire Plotkin (00:39:13):
I think that they shouldn’t be weary of any demographic personally.
Harry Plotkin (00:39:17):
Maria Monroy (00:39:19):
So I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I tend to hear a trend here, which is just be open-minded. Don’t judge someone because of their-
Claire Plotkin (00:39:29):
And ask the right questions. Yeah, be open-minded and ask the right questions.
Harry Plotkin (00:39:33):
Claire Plotkin (00:39:33):
Harry Plotkin (00:39:35):
I’ll teach lawyers, even if I were to tell you going into a trial, if I said, “Hey, I pulled somewhere aside and I was like, ‘nine out of every 10 engineers is horrible for our case.'” And then sure enough, juror number one’s an engineer, most lawyers would be like, “Okay, I got to strike that guy, right?” And I would say, “No, you talk to that guy because one out of every 10 times, that guy would’ve been great for you and if you strike him, you just wasted a strike on somebody great.” And it’s never, by the way, the case that’s 90% at all, but it’s just like don’t ever judge a book by its cover because the ones that on paper seem really bad for you and the defense loves him, that’s the one the defense is never going to strike. So if you can get a great engineer, you can get a great CFO on the jury, frankly, and I’m not being racist or whatever, but defense lawyers, for some reason, only trust the most older white males, professional ones.
If you can get someone like that on the jury that the defense, they’re not even going to think twice about that guy unless they just hit him all over the face with something they say in jury selection. If that juror’s good for you, they’re worth even more because they’re going to be on the jury. The defense is never going to strike him. I always say “Never judge a book by its cover” because it doesn’t tell you that much about them when you find out, you always get with every jury, you got to dig deep and see what their values are because if they’re good, I don’t care if they’re an engineer or a CFO or what, older, young or white or not white, I mean, if they’re good, they’re good.
Maria Monroy (00:41:09):
What is the biggest mistake you guys, besides not asking questions, you see lawyers make when selecting a jury?
Claire Plotkin (00:41:19):
I think there are a lot of mistakes, but I do think a really big mistake is being not careful with the way that you talk to jurors and somehow belittling them or demeaning them or maybe misgendering them. I’ve seen lawyers misremember names and continuously call the same juror by the wrong name. You have to remember, you have a bunch of people here who are here on their own time and on their own. They’re getting paid $15 a day to be here to take your case seriously. The least you can do is take them seriously. Harry, do you have anything else?
Harry Plotkin (00:41:56):
Yeah, in any way judging them when you’re talking to them, and that sounds like why would I ever do that? But it’s like any time that you push back or start debating them even a little bit or seeing if you can change their minds, anytime you’re doing that, you’re judging them and then they don’t want to keep talking to you and other jurors would feel the same way, they don’t want to keep talking to you. I’ve seen lawyers cross-examine them before and that always goes poorly. It’s supposed to be a friendly conversation, it’s supposed to be… Show them that you’re a human being. It’s not some weird required job interview where you have your little piece of paper out and you’re taking notes on them and “Well, Maria, tell me how many kids you have” and you’re asking questions and you’re just writing it down.
It should be an interaction. Make eye contact with them, talk to them, show some curiosity and interest in what they’re saying. It’s not like… I’ve seen a lot of lawyers, especially on the defense side, just come across not a likable human being because you’re not just there to collect information from them, you’re there to talk with them and be interested by them and have them feel like you care and you’re a human being too and not just some lawyer who’s just trying to extract information from them.
Claire Plotkin (00:43:05):
Lawyers probably know this, but I think it doesn’t hurt to resay, is I think it’s a real mistake to let a question go unanswered. One or two questions, if you just let ask it and nobody says anything and you just say, “Oh, I guess there’s no one answers to that” and you move on and you do it again, you will have the world’s fastest jury selection because you will all of a sudden have whatever, 25 people who have nothing to say. It’s like people are very… I don’t even know if it’s a combination of being nervous to talk and nobody breaks the ice or if it’s just that they think they can get away with not saying anything if nobody else says anything, but it becomes this weird thing where you’re literally talking to yourself and that’s the worst. So then I always tell lawyers, if you don’t get an answer to a question, you pick somebody.
I tell them, pick the person who seems like the meanest or most awful or defense-first oriented person in the room. Pick them.
Harry Plotkin (00:44:07):
There’s always something [inaudible 00:44:08].
Claire Plotkin (00:44:08):
And the worst case scenario, they say something like this or maybe best case scenario, they say something horrible about your case and then you say “Thank you, that’s what I needed to hear. Who else here agrees with juror number one?” It’s a nasty conversation, but like I said, you’re trying to figure out who your bad jurors are. So hopefully, you get a bunch of nasty people talk [inaudible 00:44:28] and then you’ve already succeeded really with a huge part of your jury section right there. So that’s always my suggestion.
Maria Monroy (00:44:36):
Claire’s advice is pick the meanest. I love it.
Claire Plotkin (00:44:40):
Oh yeah. Yep. Every time. It really works.
Harry Plotkin (00:44:45):
And if it’s a two-way conversation, then that’s just not going to happen. People are going to talk to you, you’re acting open-ended questions, people are going to talk to you. It’s only like the robotic, usually defense lawyers who are just like, they’re just collecting information that if you’re not friendly and welcoming and listening and you act, showing you care, those are the times when I’ve seen defense lawyers get up there and they’re like, “Does anyone here have a driver’s license? Nobody? Okay.” And they’re like, “Does anyone here ever have 10 fingers? No? Okay.” They’re just ignoring them because they’re like “You don’t need to talk to me and I don’t really be here and talk to you and so if you’re not even looking at me in the eye or talking to me, then I’m not going to… No, I’m just going to answer their questions.”
I have tried recently where I was just hugging the defense council to everybody as a diehard villain, he was the most not human robotic guy. He had, I thought it was a German accent. He seemed like a villain from a movie. He had this little gold rim glasses and his matching gold watch, gold pen. I turned out, the lawyer told me afterwards, “Oh during trial, sometimes, he would wear these silver glasses and his pen always matched and his watch always matched it” and he was just sitting there taking his little notes on the jurors and just no humanity at all and they just hated him. And he was shocked that he got killed in trial but you got to just be a human being first, especially during jury selection where you’re just talking to them.
Claire Plotkin (00:46:16):
I mean, it’s definitely a great way for plaintiff lawyers to win the likability credibility battle right away and it’s really not hard for them. Most plaintiff lawyers are friendly, nicer people than defense attorneys just off the bat, so I mean, it’s a great way for jurors already to be more receptive to you from the first moment.
Maria Monroy (00:46:37):
I would imagine, Bob is super friendly. I can see him connecting with jurors instantly because he’s so down to earth.
Claire Plotkin (00:46:47):
Maria Monroy (00:46:47):
I could see that.
Harry Plotkin (00:46:48):
With Bob, my concern is always that jurors think that he’s got something to hide because of the beard. I mean, people with beard, it’s usually have something to hide. It comes up a lot. I wondered the same thing about him but anyway, that’s a whole another story.
Maria Monroy (00:47:03):
I didn’t know that. I feel like I had heard that before but forgot about it. I’m sure he’s hiding all sorts of [inaudible 00:47:09].
Claire Plotkin (00:47:08):
No, beards are very popular now. No, I would say though, the one thing I would say about someone like Bob, and I think he does it quite well, but I do feel like it is sometimes lawyers miss, they misunderstand it. You can’t only be friendly, that doesn’t take you quite far enough. So they see, because he is just such a naturally friendly social person that he can do the difficult parts effortlessly too, but if you think that all you need to do is make jurors laugh and you’ve succeeded in jury selection, there might be a juror who’s laughing at your jokes who still will hate your case, right? So it’s more than that. You still have to ask case specific liability type questions. And even if this person seems like somebody you’d like to have a beer with, maybe he still would hate your client or hate your case or like you and say, “Sorry, I liked you but I’m going to give you zero”, right? So it’s more than just that, unfortunately. I wish it was just that.
Maria Monroy (00:48:10):
Do you guys ever disagree? I know you guys don’t pick jury selections together anymore, but back in the day or now, if you, for any reason, end up collaborating, do you ever disagree? Do you guys each have your own unique way of selecting a jury?
Claire Plotkin (00:48:28):
I have observed a few of Harry’s in the last couple years and I would say I think we agree about 95% of the time. Wouldn’t you agree, Harry? I would say maybe where we differ is in the chess strategy of the jury selection. I think Harry is naturally a little more risk-taking than I am. So I have to force myself to make a risky choice, and that might also just come from more trials, I’m not sure, but that’s the one thing where I had to sometimes talk myself into using a sixth strike or something, whereas, maybe that comes a little more naturally to Harry, that maybe it might the one… And that might just be a male-female thing too. I feel like women are more risk averse in general, I’m not sure, but that’s the one thing I’ve noticed.
Harry Plotkin (00:49:13):
I would agree. I think, and if you were probably to see Claire and I pick a jury at the same time and be a fly on the wall if we’re picking the same jury, what would probably be happen is if we would compare notes and if one of us had a different thought, we’d probably talk about it and end up on the same page at the end of the day anyway. But yeah, I mean sometimes, I think it comes down to really dangerous jurors. If someone who hasn’t said anything really bad but they could be really strong and vocal and dangerous, what do you do with that person?
And sometimes, I feel like even though I don’t know 100%, I feel like I think this person’s really good and I think it’s worth putting them on the jury, but there’s sometimes where it’s just not worth it and you get rid of them. But I think yeah, I think Claire and I agree about most things and we’re always evolving what we’re thinking about jurors and we’re always talking with each other all the time and so probably if I have a new idea about something or Claire has a new idea, we catch up with each other for the most part.
Claire Plotkin (00:50:10):
Can we probably like the same kinds of people? I think we might come at them slightly differently. Maybe I might ask a question that’s a little different than Harry’s type of question. I do use a lot of his questions and vice versa, so he’s a little more… Yeah. He, just in general, as a person, is a little more introspective, introverted than I am, so I think I might come at it from maybe a little more of a extroverted and exterior way but we usually, I think we end at the same results if that’s possible. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but we’re very similar type of people with similar thought processes just in general. That’s how we met and got along because we have very similar thoughts on most things.
Maria Monroy (00:50:56):
Now Harry, you’ve mentioned this chess strategy. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Harry Plotkin (00:51:03):
Sure. So what happens when you’re picking the jury in California is you’re only picking the 12 people in the box and so if you accept the 12 in the box, you don’t lose a strike and you only get six strikes each and so if you think, for example, I mean, you can bluff. If you think the defense, you’re like, “There’s three people on there I know the defense is going to get rid of”, like there’s a preschool teacher who seems like the sweetest person in the world and two people who were like have been hit in a crosswalk before. You could say “We accept the jury” and then they strike three people and you just pass three times and now, you have six strikes and they only have three strikes, or they can call your bluff and because of both sides, accept the jury back to back and that’s your jury. And so there’s a lot of strategy for do I pass? Is it, do I not pass?
Maria Monroy (00:51:53):
Well, what’s your strategy?
Harry Plotkin (00:51:55):
I’m pretty aggressive. I never bluff. I would never accept a jury even if I thought the defense was going to keep striking. If I thought if they were to accept a jury right now, I’d be like, “Oh, shit. I screwed up.” I would never do that. Oftentimes, I will be okay with one or even two jurors that I don’t like on there if we have a lot of really good jurors on there and so I’ll say, “You know what? I’d be happy, I’d be thrilled with this jury.” Even though there’s two people I want to strike on there, they accept the jury, we’ll be fine. And if they don’t accept the jury, we have more strikes and we’ll eventually get rid of those people. So I’m okay keeping… I remember there was one jury I picked years ago with Dave Ring on a case where there was one juror on there.
I was like, “I don’t want to waste my strike on this guy because no one’s going to listen to the guy.” I know he’s going to be against us. He used to work for the county, he’s against the county. He now works for the city. Everything about him was a terrible juror but I went, “He’s a quiet guy, he’s got a thick accent. No one’s going to listen to him, no one’s going to like him. I’m not going to waste this… I’d rather waste my strikes on somebody else and keep these good jurors.” And you know what? At the end of the day, it was 11:00 to 1;00, we had won a huge verdict and they were like, “Yeah, that guy was against us the whole time. Nobody listened to him. He didn’t affect anything at all” and so I’m okay doing that. You don’t have to win 12-0.
It’s okay to have one or two jurors that are against you as long as they’re not leaders and capable of changing people’s minds, so I’m okay being aggressive and accepting the jury with some bad people on there. As long as I get a lot of people that I really like, I’m okay rolling the dice. And if the other side, many times if they keep striking, striking, striking, I’ve had cases where they run out of strikes and we still have four strikes so we can go, “Okay, now, let’s get rid of those people and bring in even better people.” So there’s a lot of weird strategy on when to strike and when not to strike and what’s the other side, or times when there’s somebody that we don’t like and I go, “I think the defense is going to strike this person, so let’s just wait” and sure enough, a lot of times, they use their strike on him and we go, “Hey, it’s like another free strike for us.” That’s just a little part of the-
Maria Monroy (00:53:52):
This is so interesting.
Harry Plotkin (00:53:52):
Maria Monroy (00:53:52):
This sounds fun.
Claire Plotkin (00:53:52):
Yeah, [inaudible 00:53:55]. Don’t get me wrong.
Maria Monroy (00:53:52):
I want to come watch. Am I invited? Can I do this or no?
Harry Plotkin (00:54:00):
Yeah, of course.
Claire Plotkin (00:54:00):
Yeah. I do a lot of passing and strategic striking too, that the thing that I said that Harry is a little more aggressive about is when you’ve used five strikes and you don’t know who’s coming up, and then he has used a sixth before without knowing who’s coming up. And that gives me, makes me want to throw up, having to use a strike without knowing who’s going to come in because I mean, what if, I did that, I had to do that once in a trial and the person who came in after I used the sixth was a CEO of a tech company who hated lawsuits, okay? So the worst possible juror to come in. So then there’s a lot of nervousness and you have to work really hard to try to get that person off or cut. It’s just very stressful. So that’s where he has picked a lot of juries where he has used all six strikes blind, and I’m like, “Oh, this makes me so stressed out” but I’ve done it a few times, but that’s the difference, I think.
Maria Monroy (00:54:58):
It sounds actually really fun, but do you guys ever get, mentally doing this day in and day out, mentally drained from it?
Claire Plotkin (00:55:08):
Yes. I have found it lately very mentally draining, just for a multitude of reasons. As long as you just feel like you’re really working without a ton of the payoff that you’re hoping for, but we have so little control over the actual trial. It’s hard to really know how it’s going to go. You hope for the best and you think you’ve given them the best chance to succeed but it can be difficult whether something is disappointing. And I feel for every plaintiff that brings the case, so it hurts me when they lose.
Maria Monroy (00:55:40):
How do you recharge when you’re feeling that burnout, that stress? What do you guys do to ground yourselves again? Go ahead.
Claire Plotkin (00:55:52):
Harry, do you want to answer? Do you have a… Harry, do you recharge? I don’t know if you-
Maria Monroy (00:55:58):
I was like “I want to hear this too.”
Harry Plotkin (00:56:00):
Yeah, I mean, I think-
Claire Plotkin (00:56:02):
Yeah. He has zero hobbies.
Maria Monroy (00:56:06):
This is his hobby.
Harry Plotkin (00:56:07):
Yeah, I mean, spending time focusing on the kids. I mean, if I’m doing back to back to back jury selections and I’m working every day for a couple weeks, definitely, I’ll take a couple days off and spend more time with the kids and make sure that I’m giving them my full attention because that makes me feel better too. Not only you have the dad guilt, but you miss them. Take time for vacations. I know some or a lot of lawyers are like, “I don’t take vacations” but some do. We definitely do that. We try to get some time for just Claire and I too and so we try to build as much of that in as we can but I try not to, I mean, we’re not like lawyers who may do a four-week trial where they’re just away from their families for four weeks. I mean, for us, it’s like we may be at the worst. We’re working, we’re in court every day for a couple of weeks, and then that’s long enough.
Claire Plotkin (00:56:58):
I mean, I like to run and so that’s a part of it for me. And when I’m in trial, I have to often cut my runs much shorter or just fit them in when I can, so I like to… I’ll be like, if I’ve been in a long trial then come home the next day, I’ll be like, “Harry, I’m going to run for as long as I want tomorrow and you can’t stop me.” That might be one thing that I would do but I also really, it’s weird to say that this is recharging, but I have found it really helpful for me in the past. I like to go watch one of Harry’s.
There’s something that’s very stress relieving about it not being on me to make the decisions, but I can just observe because I find it very… It’s almost like a nice little tune up. If I’m just watching what the lawyers are doing and I don’t have the pressure of making that in-the-moment decisions, what am I thinking about what they’re asking? What would I have done differently? Would I have struck this same person at the same time? I find that really helpful. I know there are a lot of lawyers that do that too. They love to just go watch another lawyer, and that’s how they perhaps fix something that they might have done wrong before or make it better, make it sharper.
Maria Monroy (00:58:06):
I am dying to watch a trial, a PI trial.
Claire Plotkin (00:58:10):
Maria Monroy (00:58:10):
Literally. I don’t have the time, otherwise, I would totally do it. Especially now, being in Mexico. I should have done it when I was in California. That would’ve made way more sense but then Covid hit and-
Harry Plotkin (00:58:21):
There was that CBN file in the background.
Claire Plotkin (00:58:21):
Oh, you can.
Maria Monroy (00:58:25):
Yeah, that’s what… But even that, I haven’t had the chance because I know Bob had one and I saw people posting about it and I was like, “Oh, I wish I didn’t have all these things to do and I could just watch.”
Harry Plotkin (00:58:35):
The problem with that is that you can’t watch… They don’t show the jury, obviously, so you wouldn’t have gotten to see Let’s Go Brandon sitting there making those [inaudible 00:58:43] in that case.
Maria Monroy (00:58:44):
Harry Plotkin (00:58:44):
That was the most fun.
Maria Monroy (00:58:45):
If you would like to get in touch with Claire or Harry, you can email them at [email protected] or [email protected]. Head to their website, yournextjury.com, for the super useful and free jury selection tips that Harry has written over the years. When selecting jurors, Harry and Claire know there’s no perfect demographic. They turn to values, beliefs, and expectations to help craft the ideal jury. When selecting your next jury, do be friendly, ask open-ended questions and give the appearance that there is no right or wrong answer, don’t cross-examine or debate the juror. That might be hard for some of you. Above all else, be human and don’t judge a book by its cover.
Thank you so much to Harry and
Claire Plotkin for everything they share today. If you found this story valuable, please share it with someone you want to see succeed. Subscribe so you never miss an episode and leave a five star review. It goes a long way to help others discover the show. Catch us next week on Tip the Scales with me,
Maria Monroy, President of LawRank. Hear how the best in the business broke out of limiting beliefs, overcame adversity, and built a thriving purpose-driven business in the process.