1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to in the legal business?
Ever since I was a little kid, I had an interest in law. As an undergraduate, I majored in psychology and became extremely interested in how people make decisions. Rather than go to law school, I decided to obtain a graduate degree in social psychology. I was in graduate school in the late 90s, right after the OJ Simpson criminal trial, when I first learned about litigation consulting and how jury research and profiling were strategically utilized during this trial. I immediately fell in love with the idea of applying my education in psychology in the legal field. I was fortunate that there was a professor at Duke Law School, Dr. Vidmar, who was also a social psychologist that studied jury decision making. Working with him provided an incredible educational experience. As part of his ongoing research, I spent hours observing actual jurors deliberating and providing details on their decision-making process. Ironically, after graduate school, for many years I worked with OJ Simpson’s jury consultant as a consultant on her team and assisted her on many high-profile civil and criminal matters.
2. What do you do for a living now?
I am a partner in a litigation consulting firm I recently co-founded with two colleagues from my previous firm. Our firm, Blueprint Trial Consulting, is a nationwide litigation strategy firm which provides jury research and consulting, graphics consulting and production, and trial presentation services. Using research, technology and design, we work with attorneys and corporate counsel throughout the country to determine how jurors and judges evaluate and decide important cases.
3. Do you think the litigation consulting field is headed in the right direction?
I believe that the litigation consulting field is headed in the right direction. At Blueprint, we believe that we are at the forefront in our use of technology and analytics for testing our client’s cases, evaluating litigation risk, building jury profiling models, and identifying the themes and arguments that emotionally and cognitively resonate with decision makers. There also is a shift from using litigation consulting services not only for trial preparation but also for determining potential litigation risk and damages exposure. I believe that attorneys and in-house counsel are increasingly much more data-driven and focused on using jury research for evaluating their cases. I also think that our services will begin to be utilized by litigation finance firms to evaluate risk before making strategic investments.
4. What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating litigation consulting as a career?
A graduate degree is a nice first step but the education really starts when you begin to work with attorneys on their cases. As an entry level litigation consultant, I would recommend being involved with as many types of cases and venues as possible. I also would recommend having a litigation focus such as product liability, white-collar crime, intellectual property and begin to become a thought leader in that area. Also, I think that there is an opportunity for any younger consultant to embrace social media to begin to create a brand.
5. How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?
Like most industries, technology has already had a dramatic impact on the way we provide consulting services to our clients. For instance, when I first started doing jury research we collected almost all the data during mock trials using pen and paper. Today, we rely almost exclusively on handheld electronic keypads which participants use during the mock trial to answer questionnaires and provide us real-time feedback about the attorneys’ presentations. We have also developed an online jury research platform in which attorneys make presentations using webcams to jurors in the venue where the trial is to take place, and which allows clients to both see and hear jurors deliberate. Attorneys and clients can participate from anywhere in the world as they simply need an internet connection and a phone. This is a great example of how technology allows us to provide our consulting services to clients in cases where the level of exposure or costs of doing a traditional in-person mock trial would have, in the past, discouraged the client from doing so.
5. Who – or what – inspires you – and why?
Whenever I read interesting research or about new technology, I am inspired to see how I can apply this information to our practice. There is really interesting research recently published in moral judgement that I have been using to assist our clients in understanding how jurors will decide their cases. Also, the technology that we have been using and our analytics are very exciting developments in our practice.
6. Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar?
In my experience, the fields are becoming even more differentiated. Lawyers and in-house counsel want to know how triers of fact will decide their cases and how they can be most effective at trial. Jurors need to be presented with a story that is consistent with their life experiences, resonates with their moral decision making, and which ultimately makes them feel good about finding in favor of a party. It is my role to help our clients evaluate litigation risk and to help determine the moral judgements that jurors will use to decide cases, assist with the development compelling themes and storylines, suggest visual elements that will bolster our client’s case and make recommendations for how to best present our evidence at trial.
7. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Earlier in my career, the challenge was to educate attorneys and in-house counsel about the value of our services. Now, I believe that the challenge is to retain us earlier in the litigation process, not just when the case is going to trial, to help evaluate litigation risk and potential damages. The litigation field is highly inefficient. Litigants typically spend too much money on cases that they should have settled earlier before undergoing an extensive and costly discovery process. When cases settle, litigants often settle for too much or too little. Our services help our clients save money by determining potential risk and if the case can be settled reasonably before investing significant resources on discovery and experts.
8. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything else! I think I would be on a tropical beach drinking margaritas.
9. What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?
I love to play tennis, exercise, and read. I also have three young boys and a beautiful wife that I love to spend time with.
11. What’s your favorite sports team?
New York Yankees! My father and grandfather were both Yankees fans and am happy to carry that mantle. Unfortunately, my oldest son is a Mets fan! His friends are all Mets fans and they got to him before me. My oldest son is now trying to get his younger brothers to become Mets fans as well!
12. What’s your favorite city?
I have worked on cases in 41 or 42 states now. I love going to Southern California which always has great weather and food!
13. What’s your favorite food?
Any red sauce Italian food always makes me happy.
Dr. Eric Rudich is a Partner and Senior Litigation Consultant at Blueprint Trial Consulting.
As a social psychologist, he evaluates how individuals’ emotions, perceptions, and attitudes influence their decision-making in civil and criminal litigation. Dr. Rudich regularly leverages technology to help his clients gain insight into how individuals analyze and ultimately decide his clients’ cases. Based on this information, he works closely with counsel to develop themes and specific language at trial, advise on visual strategies, create jury profiles and prepare witnesses. He has been conducting jury research and consulted on matters for almost 20 years and has worked on over 500 cases in venues throughout the United States. Dr. Rudich has worked on litigation involving intellectual property, insurance defense, product liability, securities, contract, anti-trust, white-collar crime, and environmental issues.
Dr. Rudich has appeared as an invited guest on CourtTV and MSNBC, conducted CLEs, spoken at conferences and published several articles in leading legal journals. Dr. Rudich has a doctorate degree in social psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has studied jury behavior at Duke Law School.