Love a good legal drama and just wish you had more time to watch and listen to them? You can be a mock juror or participate in legal focus groups. Both can give you your true-crime fix, while paying sometimes generous stipends for your time.
Be a mock juror
Being a mock juror is somewhat like being a real juror. But there’s less waiting around in court hallways and considerably better pay.
Often, you read — or watch — a case online from the comfort of your own home. Cases can take from 20 minutes to several hours. And after all the evidence is presented, you explain how you’d rule and why.
In some cases, mock jurors participate as a group, much like they would at trial, interacting and discussing various elements of a case via Zoom. But mock juries can also be held in person. In these cases, mock trials typically require between a half and a full day.
Legal focus groups
Legal focus groups are a bit different. They typically are used by attorneys who want to decide how to structure or present their case. So they’re typically dealing with the steps prior — or after — to what you see in a mock trial. And many legal focus groups are held in person, allowing consultants to get a better look at jury body language.
Some lawyers use legal focus groups to evaluate the most sympathetic type of juror for their cause. Others use them to determine what elements might be missing to make a case more compelling.
Like mock jurors, participants in legal focus groups are there to provide advice to the legal team. They illuminate areas where the jury might be confused or skeptical. And they may signal weakness in a witness testimony — or can determine the need to settle a case. These opinions help lawyers strategize before they get in front of a real jury, when the client’s life or livelihood is on the line.
To be a mock juror, you typically must be over the age of 18; a U.S. citizen; have no felony convictions; and are not a judge, lawyer or legal aide. In some cases, people who work for insurance or media companies are also excluded.
By and large, mock trials and legal focus groups also require that you live and/or work in the general geographic area where the trial will be held. That’s to increase the chance that the mock trial/focus group panel is likely to have similar societal biases or beliefs as the people who will eventually be empaneled to serve on the real jury.
How much you earn
Pay for mock juries and legal focus groups varies widely. However, the better sites pay upwards of $20 per hour. Often pay is done by the project, so a trial that’s expected to take a few hours might pay $100; one that takes all day might pay $225 – $350. When mock trials and legal focus groups are held in person, meals and snacks often are provided.
Where to sign up
Law firms and legal consulting firms advertise for mock jurors on Indeed, Facebook and other sites. However, a number also allow prospective participants to sign up to join mock-juror pools, whenever they’re formed.
Realize, however, that mock trials and legal focus groups are not held every day. They tend to be reserved for complex and high-dollar cases. As a result, it’s smart to sign up with several mock juror sites to improve the chance of getting semi-regular work.
Here are the best options:
Available in most states, First Court hosts both online and in-person mock trials and legal focus groups. Pay ranges from $150 to $350 per day. With mock trials that are done in person, participants are treated to meals and snacks. Reviewers of this site’s mock trials say they’re engaging, well-organized, and that the site pays well and promptly.
LegalFocusGroup is a young mock juror / legal focus group company that completes all of its sessions online via Zoom. The brain child of an attorney and MBA student, the site connects potential jurors from all over the country, and pays between $15 and $30 per hour. The site’s aim is to help attorneys evaluate whether a case is ready for trial, or if the case still needs work or is best settled without litigation.
Online Verdict once held primarily online events, paying between $20 and $60 for up to an hour of work. However, the site has recently started recruiting for lengthier in-person focus groups that pay up to $300 for the day.