Cal. Litig. 2018, Volume 31 Number 2

How Jurors View Attorneys: It All Starts With Voir Dire

By David Perlut and Katie Vinson, Ph.D.

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression." There is more than a kernel of truth in this old adage. Psychologists know that first impressions are formed quickly, are difficult to change, and have far reaching implications. But what are the consequences of this for trial counsel?

Jurors begin forming impressions of attorneys from the very moment they begin to interact with them—typically, during voir dire. The impressions they form tend to be related to a discrete set of factors, all within counsel’s control. That is, lawyers can create the impression they want jurors to have of them through how they conduct voir dire. And more importantly, these factors tend to be correlated not just with favorable or unfavorable impressions of the attorney, but also with how jurors decide a dispute. Studies repeatedly and consistently show that it’s often the little things that attorneys do that have far reaching implications for how they are viewed and judged.

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