Dial Testing Helps Trial Research Consultant Overcome Assumptions and Deliver Hard Truths

I tell my clients that if you want the most return for your trial consulting investment, it’s pennywise but pound foolish to cut something so integral to getting good data. The data we get from the dial tests are the glue of the mock exercise.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Laurie Kuslansky has been assisting her civil and criminal litigation clients develop strategies, refine arguments and presentations, and make well-informed pre-trial decisions. In that time, she’s conducted approximately 500 mock trials. It’s not a stretch to say she is one of the most experienced and well-respected trial consultants in the business. One of Dr. Kuslansky’s go-to tools when conducting mock jury research is dial testing using Dialsmith’s Perception Analyzer.


Dial testing has played a critical role in the 500+ mock jury projects Dr. Kuslansky has conducted.

Dr. Kuslansky credits dial testing for its ability to credibly challenge client assumptions and alleviate the burden from her and/or the attorneys to deliver what are sometimes “hard truths” to the client.

Dr. Kuslansky also notes that dial testing’s real-time results are a big time saver for clients and notes that it is “incredibly gratifying” for clients to see the feedback from mock jurists immediately.


Dr. Kuslansky’s trial consulting clients are typically involved in high stakes litigation cases, and as a result, hold strong assumptions as to where they stand with their case heading into their consulting engagement. In many cases, the results gathered through the mock jury research can challenge those assumptions. In such situations, where the stakes are so high, it can be difficult to break through clients’ assumptions and pre-conceived positions.

Additionally, conducting a mock trial is a significant investment, and time with the jury participants, not to mention expert witnesses, legal counsel, etc., in the room is at a premium. Everything must run efficiently and every opportunity to gather useful data and insights must be maximized.


dial testing mock jury

Dr. Kuslansky teams up with Dialsmith’s technical consulting services to run the dial testing in her mock jury studies. Doing so, she notes, “Relieves me of all the technical elements, logistics, and set up of getting the dials in the hands of our participants and having the system all ready to go. I can therefore focus my full attention on moderating the session and ensuring I’m meeting the objectives of the client.”

During the mock exercise, each juror is given her/his own handheld dial that is used to answer questions posed by Dr. Kuslansky. Various question types can be asked, including discreet choice, intensity scale, tradeoffs/conjoint and moment-to-moment. Answers to each question are tabulated and displayed instantly for both Dr. Kuslansky and the client to see.

Dr. Kuslansky adds, “The real-time nature of having the results right there for you to view is absolutely thrilling for clients. They love it and so do I. It really helps to get a grip on the reality of what’s happening in the mock and how participants are reacting. We then have the opportunity to incorporate what we see in the data into the next presentation or next set of instructions or additional questions we present to the jury. As I tell my clients, ‘If you’re in a rush to get information and do something with it, there’s no better way to do it than with the dials.'”


Dr. Kuslansky gave examples of why she values dial testing for its ability to provide data-backed insights that either clearly substantiate or contradict her clients’ assumptions going into the mock jury study.

“One case where I clearly remember the dial testing making a big difference involved a securities related matter. The mock showed, in its entirety, but certainly through the dial data, that there was almost no way for us to win. I mean, the client team threw everything they had at this, and the data were still so consistently negative toward our client–always losing–every single position, theory, credibility, everything. The results made it clear that not only would we lose, but we would lose badly. There was no course correction that would save the client. So the risk, even if we made great strategic steps, was huge. The research made it so clear that the client settled the next day.”

“I’ve also been involved in many cases where the mock data and insights don’t directly lead to a settlement as in my first example. Instead, the findings lead to less tangible, but just as valuable, changes in strategy. In this one case, we were working for a plaintiff who was badly injured in a work incident. There was no question that there was some contributory negligence by the plaintiff in his own injuries. Nonetheless, he was suing his employer and others that were related to the employment situation for his injuries, which were catastrophic. He had been offered a settlement, and prior to our mock research, his thinking was that the settlement was way too low…

dial testing for mock jury researchThrough the dial research, we found that our jury participants were much less sympathetic to the plaintiff’s case than he thought.

The dial research revealed that most of the jury participants wouldn’t have awarded the plaintiff even half of the amount of the settlement offer due to the fact that they felt he did things that the average person would have known not to do, and therefore, contributed to his own injury. Those results had a significant impact in the plaintiff attorney and client ‘seeing the light’ that the original settlement offer on the table was much more than the plaintiff would likely get if the case went to trial, and so, the plaintiff ultimately accepted the original settlement offer.”

In closing, Dr. Kuslansky notes, “When I explain why dial testing is important to my clients, I focus on the data. Conducting a mock trial is a significant investment. If you want the most return for it, it’s pennywise but pound foolish to cut something so integral to getting good data. The data we get from the dial tests are the glue of the mock exercise.”

Want to know more about dial testing for mock juries and trial research, visit here.