A discussion with Dan Jaffe of LawLytics on legal technology and jury trials

Thanks to Dan Jaffe of LawLytics for a fun conversation about legal technology, jury trials, the pain of paper-based jury selection and how an interest in government and politics led to a career in software development.
The video version of the talk is here
Here is the lightly edited transcript (all errors are mine)
A Conversation with Dan Johnson, Co-Founder of JurorSearch

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Dan is the co-founder of JurorSearch which is I think a really innovative piece of software that I would have liked to have had when I was a trial lawyer. I always found that the part of the trial that I thought was most pivotal but also was the hardest to track was jury selection, and Dan has created a solution that makes that a lot more systematic, a lot more transparent, and a lot easier. So, we’re gonna be talking about that, but first, Dan, I would like to talk about your background because you have somewhat of an unusual path through the law. I’d love for our listeners to hear about that journey.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, sure! So, thanks again for having me. This is fun. So, yeah, I got out of law school in 2000 and into politics, into government. Started working for a nonprofit called FairVote that advocates for proportional voting and a ranked ballot. New York City is actually using a ranked ballot for the first time in a couple of months for their Democratic primary for mayor. So, I went to San Francisco, campaigned for what was then called Proposition A, where you can give a first choice, second choice, third choice on your ballot, same-day voter registration. That introduced me to lobbying, and I became a full-time lobbyist with my own firm a few years after that in ’03. Still run that firm.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: So, were you interested in politics before you went to law school, or is that a path that kind of developed?

Dan Johnson, CEO: Oh, I always loved—I went to law school to be like Ralph Nader.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Uh-huh!

Dan Johnson, CEO: I just thought it was amazing that you can save lives with regulation. I got in a car crash when I was in high school, like a bunch of male teenagers. My brain wasn’t fully developed and a very bad driver [laughing]. Got in a crash and the airbag saved my life. So, I felt some sense of obligation to understand how that came to be.

But I always loved the power of public good and understanding how government works. So, didn’t really know what a lobbyist was, but wanted to understand those skills. I love the legislative branch. I just think it’s accessible and human and entrepreneurial. So, I’ve spent a lot of time with the legislative branch for the last 20 years or so.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Okay, yeah, it’s really interesting. I’ve known a lot of attorneys that have gone in and at least dabbled in legislation—in lobbyist activities and legislation—at the state levels. And it really is somewhere that you can get in as a lawyer and make a difference. I’m sorry, I interrupted your background story—

Dan Johnson, CEO: No, no! States are where it’s at! State capitals are great. State legislators are almost universally great people. They’re sort of like your Little League coach or your PTA mom. They’re just sort of nice, accessible people and—one thing for lawyers: we find problems in the law.

And I think a lot of times—this is a digression—but a lot of times you sort of act like the law, the statute, is static, and we just have to maneuver around it, and we forget that it’s really plastic, and that there are all these well-intentioned, reasonable, nice people whose job it is, is to change the statute. They meet every year or every two years and they like hearing from people with specific improvements to the statute that make life better for folks.

So, I think sometimes we—law school is very judicial-focused, right? We read opinions, we don’t really read legislative debates, and then we kind of overlook the first branch, Article I. But, yeah, I’d encourage people to really get to know their state legislators but come to them with shortcomings in the law because legislators love it! Then they don’t have to do their homework! They can just do their work to convince their colleagues to pass it.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, so, tell me about some of your adventures through the law that led you ultimately to do what you’re doing now with JurorSearch.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah! It’s a winding road. I mean, I never litigated a jury trial, I never picked a jury. And so, I was in politics and had a company that offered political software and political data.

In the political world, there’s huge amounts of data on everybody. Magazines you read, and any time you answer a survey—you can kinda compile that and have a sense of how people lean on different issues. And one day, a friend who’s now part of JurorSearch said, “You know who’d be interested in this stuff? It’d be trial lawyers when they’re picking a jury!” They’d like to know—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Absolutely!

Dan Johnson, CEO: —you know, who sort of thinks big corporations have too much power, or who sort of thinks that we should respect the police and that if somebody’s arrested it’s probably for a good reason, right? You know, we kind of know these things about people—good, educated guesses.

So, we started pitching trial lawyers and saying, “Hey, look! We got all this data. What do you think?” And discovered the industry of jury consultants. People that deal with picking juries all the time. A great guy in Chicago named Dan Wolf said, “The data’s nice. Maybe it’s 100% accurate, probably not, right? It’s good, but really what we need is our industry of people that pick juries for a living—we don’t have a software product. And the most sophisticated teams you can imagine, we’re using Excel! And we’re texting each other and sending emailed spreadsheets and maybe we’re generating some PDFs, but we don’t have a software product that allows us all to collaborate, do all the online research to discover any evidence of bias, convey that to the attorney in the way that he or she finds intuitive and actionable, keeps track of your strikes, gives you a running counter. We just don’t have a product like that, so, you’ve got a neat interface; maybe you should work on that.” And so I took his advice.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Interesting.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, it was wonderful, great mentor. Took his advice and kept building.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: When was that? What year?

Dan Johnson, CEO: That was just before the pandemic, so in ’19.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Okay, gotcha.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right, so we got a couple—some people in Chicago tried what we had. It was buggy, but they were willing to try it. And then we launched our beta just around the shutdown. So, we had it out there right as everything stopped. And so, the bad news of having a software product that manages jury selection during a pandemic is, there aren’t any jury trials.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: [laughs]

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughing] But the good news is, all these professionals and attorneys and consultants had a lot of time to share what their wish lists are. And so, we developed this culture of listening, because I’ve never picked a jury, so what do I know? And so, we’d just show them what we had, hear what people would say, and then got in this habit of every week, deploying new features and new enhancements and new tweaks based on what people said they wanted.

And so, we keep that to this day where the product’s never done. There’s always somebody wants it a certain way, they like to rank them in their customized way, or they want to see the screen differently. And the awesome thing about software is you can do that!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Jury selection, I think it’s so ripe for innovation and disruption. Most of our audience is going to be solo practitioners and small law firms. However, I want to talk about the use cases for all of them just so you understand that I feel the pain that you’re solving.

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughter]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: I was a trial lawyer for about a decade, and I was a criminal defense lawyer. As a criminal defense lawyer in private practice, there are no jury consultants!

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: There was no budget for that! And the majority of trials that I did were misdemeanor trials where they’d bring in 30-40 potential jurors from a pool and we’d whittle it down to somewhere between 8 and about 12 or 14 depending on the size of the jury, depending on whether it was a misdemeanor or a felony.

Especially at the misdemeanor level, they’d filter in the jurors in a line into the courtroom, filling up the spectator seats, filling up the jury box at the same time that they handed us this stack of carbon copy papers with five or six questions that the jurors answered and then a chart that—if you had really small writing, you could kind of write there.

And so, I always had my clients, I put them to work because I’m trying to listen to what the jurors are saying. I’m trying to question them during voir dire. I’m trying to understand their biases. I’m trying to look for non-verbal cues. And I can’t keep track of it at the same time, so I always had my client take notes. But the notes, depending on the client, they could be really good, they could be really bad. And I tried to solve it with technology. Back then it was old-school tablet PCs that were running Windows XP or something like that, and it would crash half the time and it would freeze the other half.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It almost just became an exercise in instinct. And your product sounds like exactly what I would have liked to have had while I was practicing law and picking jurors.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah! I’ll show you—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Let’s jump in and talk about how this works for people like me.

Dan Johnson, CEO: ‘Cause this is what people use, right? Post-It notes.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm!

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right? And they’ll literally—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: If you even have time to do that!

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right. But they’ll literally use Post-It notes and move ‘em around, you know, big piece of cardboard, right? In 2021!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm!

Dan Johnson, CEO: So, especially with trying to keep track of Batson challenges which are impermissible reasons why the state might—or the defense—might use one of their peremptory strikes, which is a strike of a right—I can use it to remove a juror, but it gets to be a real challenge to keep track of all that data and information, and you’re supposed to be looking at the jurors, right? [laughing]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: [laughs]

Dan Johnson, CEO: So, yeah, you’re right. It is a real problem, and we also think—it shouldn’t be that controversial, but typing notes into a computer is faster and cleaner and keeps a better record than scribbling something on a legal pad or Post-It notes. Right?

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: But it doesn’t send the right message, though, if—for me, if I’m in front of a juror I know I’m trying the case the moment that juror walks in—the jury walks in. So, I need to have somebody else be able to do that, or I need to have a super-efficient, discreet way for me to do it.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: And so, if I had a system that I could have at that point handed my client and said, “You type this in.” Just, “And you let me make the connection with the jurors. You let me start trying this case.” Because if the juror sees me judging them then they’re gonna judge me back and it was, it’s kind of theatre right from the time that they walk in. And so it sounds like you create a lot of efficiencies with what you do.

Dan Johnson, CEO: I think so. And it is helpful—it’s really hard to do it by yourself if you have nobody taking—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It really is.

Dan Johnson, CEO: It’s almost an impossible task.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yup.

Dan Johnson, CEO: And you’re basically relying on memory. And so, whether you use paper or JurorSearch, anybody that’s picking a jury by themselves, you’re ultimately doing it on memory.

Where that gets to be a real challenge, particularly for prosecutors, is, you gotta keep a record. ‘Cause you could have a Batson challenge on appeal, six months or a year later.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm!

Dan Johnson, CEO: So, I think, it’s probably not great practice. I mean, it’s great you got your clients to do it, but somebody needs to take notes! [laughing] It happens fast. And I think the benefit of using software that’s built for it is it’s easy to keep those notes organized by juror, it’s easy to instantly rank them one through five or A through F or whatever ranking system you want. And it’s easy to keep track of the strikes. You gotta know how many peremptories you’ve got left, right? There’s like a—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm!

Dan Johnson, CEO: —a game of Battleship that happens towards the end—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: [laughs] Yep!

Dan Johnson, CEO: —when, “Do I have three left or do I have two left? And which ones do I think the other side’s gonna use, ‘cause if I get rid of Sally, I’ll be stuck with Bert.” And it’s a lot of game theory, right, that’s happening fast. And it’s helpful to have that in one place where you can visualize it.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: So, does it help you keep track of, not only the numbers that you have, but if I use a peremptory on this person, this is how the cascade works, and who’s gonna end up—are you able to kind of see a model of who’s likely to end up in that jury box?

Dan Johnson, CEO: That one’s coming! We don’t have that today, but we keep getting requests for it, and I’m still puzzling through how to visualize it. So, we sort of have this, we have a strike strategy workflow, which is okay, but it’s not where it should be. They’re basically checkboxes. You indicate “Who do I think they’re going to strike?” and then you can sort, so you can see, “Okay, I think they’ll do two more, and I think I’ll do two more.” So, you can kind of see it, but the ability to sort of have a projected jury box—“If this, then I’ll end up with that” and you can assign numbers, so this is the average—that one’s coming. But it’s fun to—and I haven’t figured it out yet, how to make that—as you know, with software, making something sophisticated on the back end but intuitive on the front end is hard!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It’s so hard!

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: And your beta testing is probably a lot different than a lot of legal tech companies. Because to really have this be working in action you’ve gotta have a live jury. You could kinda do it with mock juries, but—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —and then, I imagine, you’ve got a complex problem here because every court does it differently.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yes!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: And I’ve been hearing from friends that are starting to venture back into the courtroom now that some of the restrictions have been lifted—okay, it’s not that we’re bringing in the whole jury at once so you can see everybody’s reaction. They’re bringing one juror in at a time, social distancing, which gives you the chance to get to know them a little bit better, but I think also has some disadvantages because you don’t have that—you can’t see how they react to each other, who’s a lion and who’s a sheep, so to speak.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right, right. It’s hard to see leadership qualities individually.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah!

Dan Johnson, CEO: And you’re right. It’s a dizzying array of procedures and processes around the country, which is really interesting. It’s kind of a cool little area of the law that isn’t really studied much.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah.

Dan Johnson, CEO: But it is really interesting. But that speaks to—we have like a visual representation, right? We call it jury seats, so sort of rows of seven, as many as you want, and then you click and pick your juror.

But every new client we speak with, or prospect, they’ll share that—like I was just talking with somebody in Florida in a prosecutor’s office and they’re like, “Why would you leave your seat when you’re stricken?” ‘Cause that’s our default, right? When Dan Jaffe—I’m gonna strike him so once he’s struck, he’s gone, and somebody else can sit in their seat. Well, they’re like, “Well, no, that seat remains open.” Like—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yup.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Like somebody just died at the Thanksgiving table or something, right? [laughing] It stays open in Florida, forever! Right? So, alright, I guess we need to build that feature, that you can strike them but instead of disappearing, you need like the big red Family Feud X in front of it or something.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, yeah. Mostly, I’ve seen it work like The Tonight Show where the new guest comes in and the old guest moves down a seat, and, yeah, that type of thing. And then eventually gets pushed off the end, but—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Totally! That’s standard. But that’s not how they do it in Florida. And then we just released a new one called “Prompt” but they wanted— one of the clients wanted a grid of 16 by 4 seats where the pictures are very small, but then the text is very large. And some people said, “I really want a grid with 100 tiny little dots, where I can—I just want red or green and very, very small so I can customize if they’re all in the gallery.”

And so, the use cases get complicated and they want customization. Which is all fair, so we can do it for ‘em, but, to your point, it happens in lots of different ways. We ended up with this pitch that we’re really customized software for your process. And we end up feeling more like an IT managed services company ‘cause there’s just a lot of time to customize it for each client ‘cause they’re all different. And we’re happy to do it, right? Because if this guy does it that way, well, the whole state does it that way. So we’re happy to learn and build it the right way for them and then other people can use it.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: And I think that’s how most software—at least business-to-business software—starts out. Especially in the early days, you kind of have to see what the market wants, you have to adapt, and so forth. But my observation of—and I did jury trials all over Washington state and all over Arizona, and there were places, like in Phoenix, the municipal court, I tried a lot of cases there. And then there were cases, like I went and I tried a case in the town of Coolidge, Arizona.

And I did the first jury trial there that they had done in 25 years. They brought out jury instructions from 25 years ago. For whatever reason, nobody ever challenged the state there, and I had a client who wanted to do so and brought me in, and I drove down. He came up to the Phoenix area to get me for that. And they didn’t have a jury box; they brought in folding chairs. I ended up with a mom and a daughter who I think lived in the same household on the same jury. And it was crazy. They were just making it up as they go along.

But then in the larger jurisdictions, this is a problem, that if you could sell a way of systematizing and making uniform jury selection and kind of the herding of information on either a statewide or even on a national level, you would be doing the legal profession such a service. And it seems like you’re kind of on your way to doing that.

Dan Johnson, CEO: That’s interesting. I had this notion that—actually there’s a little empty website up, but there isn’t a voir dire library. There isn’t a collection of voir dire procedures. And so—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Uh-huh.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Even stuff like: do the judges ask the question or do the attorneys ask the question? Can you back strike, meaning we both say, “Dan Jaffe, alright, we’re good with you,” and then an hour and a half later, we’re like, “Actually, I’m gonna strike him. Because I like all the other new jurors more.”

And all the different nuances; do you put four in a box and then you come to terms on those four, and then that’s a lock? And then you go to the next four? Or do you have all fifty and do the—can you strike an alternate? So, how many peremptories do you get? Some, you get 15 peremptories.

So I just thought it’d be fun to collect that information and at least begin with a data source as to how voir dire happens. We haven’t gotten anywhere with it. [laughing] But it would be nice to have.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Well, and I think educating judges especially around voir dire. My observation also was that, from my perspective as a trial lawyer, picking that jury was the trial. Like, if that didn’t go well, nothing else would go well after that. It didn’t matter. And judges looked at it as a stupid formality that they had to get through, almost universally. It was like, “Let’s rush this as much as possible. We can get these people that aren’t selected outta here so they’re not sitting there. We can get this court in motion.”

And it resulted, in the courts where the judge was particularly apathetic to the result of jury selection, where the judge would say, “I’m asking all the questions.” Typically it was criminal trials that I was doing, and the judge would, in this one court in particular, would start with, “As we sit here today, this defendant,”—and would always say ‘this defendant’ rather than Mr. Whatever—“this defendant is presumed innocent. Now, if you had to go and—knowing that he is charged with X, Y, or Z crime—if you had to go vote right now, would you vote guilty or not guilty? Raise your hand for guilty.” And the judge would raise her hand, and 95% of the people in the court room would raise their hand. And then, watching the judge, “No, that’s not the right answer, so, let me tell you this again, let me spoon-feed this to you for the record. He is presumed not guilty. So, would you vote guilty right now—”

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: “—not having anything to have overcome that presumption?” And then only 75% of the people would raise their hand. And the judge would typically go, “Eh, good enough. Let’s—let’s move on.”

And I’m sitting here—and I had one case where we did that, or that happened, and my client just looked at me and said, “What are we doing here?” And there were really no tools that I had to be able to educate the judge as to why she just prejudiced the jury and kept reinforcing it over and over again. And, yeah, we had the record for an appeal, but—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: You know, that’s not where most small law firm lawyers—

Dan Johnson, CEO: No.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —and that’s not where most clients live.

Dan Johnson, CEO: That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about it that way, sort of a—some best practices for voir dire for the judge to consider. Interestingly, speaking of municipal courts, I got a call from the presiding judge of the Salt Lake City municipal court who is a really innovative guy and wanted to do a survey with implicit bias.

Some studies show that if you take a survey about implicit bias and sort of bring attention to it, then it really reduces jurors’ bias for at least a week. Right, ‘cause you’re like aware of it. And so—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Oh, interesting.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah! And, but he couldn’t find a tool. He’s like, “I don’t really want to do, like, Survey Monkey.” But he found Jurorsearch and he asked whether we could build something for the court. Right? You know, we’re built for lawyers.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Uh-huh.

Dan Johnson, CEO: So we said, “Sure!” So, we’re now managing surveys for the Salt Lake City municipal court. And we got the domain name jurycard.com which is kind of easy to find. Eight letters, so that’s a good one.

‘Cause we built a survey feature for Jurorsearch, right? If you get some surveys, you gotta get that data in, you gotta get those answers in, and then track it by juror, but we just reconfigured it for the court so then they can transmit the venire electronically, which is a whole ‘nother thing. It’s ridiculous we’re still transmitting venires on paper and not sending the data—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah!

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right? I mean, just ridiculous.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Well, it seems to me, if you could get the courts to use that, not only would it increase efficiencies but then why wouldn’t any attorney subscribe to it if you could just tap in and get that information? Wow.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Just to say, “Look here, here’s a database. Like, you wanna use Excel? Feel free but—the paper thing, we gotta get past it.”

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: I think you’re solving a huge problem. It’s a market that I haven’t really looked at in terms of a total addressable market but it seems like you’ve got the courts, you got prosecutors, you got public defenders, you got private attorneys, you got jury consultants. Did I miss anybody else in the target market?

Dan Johnson, CEO: You got the criminal defense private bar.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm.

Dan Johnson, CEO: We got some civil litigators. And that’s about it.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: So, huge market. So, basically, any lawyer that could find themselves in court, every single court that does jury trials, and every single public entity that conducts jury trials. And it’s like Stone Ages. I mean, just Stone Ages right now.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Some court rooms do have carbon paper.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm! [laughs]

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right? They do! [laughing] In 2021!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah!

Dan Johnson, CEO: So yeah, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The only mitigating factor to sort of reduce the total addressable market is, you know, the disappearing jury trial.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm.

Dan Johnson, CEO: As you know, most cases settle. Most criminal cases plea out, which is a problem. So, pre-pandemic, there’s about 150,000 jury trials a year. All of ‘em. Maybe about another 5,000 federal. So, that’s kinda how I think about the size and scope of it. It’s not clear how many court rooms there are that are doing jury trials, but you’re right, it is a process which I think is noble and wonderful and part of the American experiment. The jury itself is an amazing institution. But we could upgrade our operating tools [laughs] to increase in efficiency—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Oh, yeah.

Dan Johnson, CEO: —get away from paper.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Well, and it seems to me that because jury trials all but stopped during the pandemic, and what I’m hearing from friends is that well, now these courts have this backlog of jury trials and so, now I have a trial date and my trial date is this Tuesday, next Tuesday, the Tuesday after that, the Tuesday after that, for the same case. And so, every Monday they’re on call—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Wow.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —at this point. And there’s a two-hour window. And they’ve gotta be perpetually ready for trial because their number could get drawn out of the bingo wheel or however the particular court ends up doing it for that week. And if they’ve got the band together, if there’s the jury there, there’s an open seat on the bench—or with the judge on the bench, and a courtroom’s open, then your life’s on hold—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, that’s rough.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —as a trial lawyer, with cases on a docket right now. And I know that the judges are feeling it as well, and prosecutors are feeling it. Yeah, there’s gonna be some natural settlements that are gonna happen because there’s just not the bandwidth for it. And I’m sure insurance companies kind of dig that, and I’m sure—

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —there’s a lot of—if the prosecutors’ offices get overwhelmed there’s a lot of defendants that are going to benefit. But it seems like you’re on the verge of solving one of the great bottlenecks in our court system.

Dan Johnson, CEO: I appreciate it. I do think it can help, particularly if you think about the—‘cause this is what the Salt Lake City court’s doing—the qualifying questions. So, people should do that at home. Right? We should not summon people to come to the court room and then answer qualifying questions on a piece of paper. And then say, “Alright, well, you take a hike. You’re out.”

So, what we’re doing for the Salt Lake City judge is, it’s just a form, but they can fill it out—at home! You get your letter, you get your eight-digit code, you log in to jurycard.com, you answer—it’s like 90 questions, so you answer ‘em all—and then the judge’s staff can say, “Alright, here’s who we’re bringing in downtown on this day.”

And so, it speeds up actual trial day and it doesn’t kill that hour or two in the morning when, otherwise, they’re herding people around and photocopying paper surveys, which happens. And everyone’s kind of waiting for 45 minutes, and these are all billables, and the backlog grows. So, I do think we can help in speeding up the process of getting the qualified jurors set for voir dire to begin.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah. And thinking back to my trial days, even just the yes/no questions. “How many of you have bumper stickers on your car?” I mean, just stuff like that that, for whatever reason, a court got into its mind that they’re supposed to ask. “How many of you listen to country music?” “So, okay Juror Number One, you can put your hand down. Juror Number Three. Juror Number—” and everybody—“Okay, this guy listens to country music!”

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It seems to me that there’s a technological way of solving that, too, so we don’t have to do that—go around the room and confirm that 40 people either raised their hand or didn’t raise their hand at—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —at one time.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, we actually—one of our workflows—we’ve got like eight on the sidebar, but one of them’s called “Hand-raisers”. Where they’re basically the checklist, the checkbox, right? So, the whole team can sort of go through. We’re built on Google’s Firebase, so same sort of real-time collaboration. But just click the boxes for question one so then we know it. Click the boxes for question two and then we know it. Instead of whatever your code is for quickly writing that down. But I do think the more we put that on written surveys pre-trial day, the better. Just the more efficient.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah! Well, and why not—every single juror probably has a cell phone in their pocket, or most jurors do.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: What if—I imagine you’ve probably thought about how that might be leveraged, too, in the process.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right! Everybody can—everybody’s got a browser now. You can get it on—all your phones, they’ve all got a browser. So, if you can enter in and give you a—click your checkboxes on a browser in your phone, why would we do it any other way?

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, yeah. I mean—[laughs]—I’m so glad to hear that somebody is innovating in this space. And God, it seems to me that there’s—you know, jurors vote. Your history is with other voting. It just—it all seems so tied together.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah! That’s interesting. I guess you’re right. In a way, the most democratic part of the judicial branch is the jury, right?

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Mm-hmm.

Dan Johnson, CEO: It’s really an amazing institution, and I didn’t really appreciate—I never had a jury trial and I didn’t really read up on it much in law school. But now that I’m sort of swimming in it, it’s unique to our country. And it’s kind of amazing to think that, “Let’s let 12 citizens—you guys decide!” Right? [laughing] Right? I mean, it’s really sort of that, the republic, and the role of the citizen at the center of things. It’s really an amazing thing.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, the whole jury of peers—I’ve had so many clients tell me, “I don’t think these are my peers.” You know? And any tools to be able to get to understand them, not only from the client’s perspective to give them comfort with it, but from the attorney’s perspective and the court’s perspective—I don’t know, it just seems like the time is right.

So, how are you thinking about approaching the various markets? I guess that question, but then I also wanna find out—if I’m a judge, and I’m hearing this, and I’m like, “I want my court room to run more efficiently with these jury trials,” what should they do? How should they go about engaging with you? Same with jury consultants, same with law firms of all sizes.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, no, I appreciate it. I mean, Judge Landau, right, he just emailed. Actually, we met on Twitter. So—

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: [laughs]

Dan Johnson, CEO: I’m [email protected]. And that’s the easiest way, is just to engage. Because I think software works best when the client says, “I get this is what you have, but let me tell you ‘this is what I want.’ And let me know if you can deliver that.” Because you and I know, the answer’s almost always ‘yes.’ That software is so malleable.

And I think people have sort of gotten accustomed to thinking of a software product like a commodity product or like a physical product, like, “It is what it is and deal with it, and live with it, or don’t.” But we know you can shape it any way somebody wants.

It’s most helpful when people will say, “You know, what I really want is the ability to do this,” or “I wish I could do that.” And then we can do it for people! So, that’s really sort of the golden nuggets, when people are willing to share, “I wish I could do this,” or “I wish I could do that, if only it could work this way.” Because then we can build what people really want.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, yeah. And I think that there’s probably—the possibilities for the technology right now probably outweigh the will to adopt it in terms of, especially, courts. And what I mean by that is, the legal industry, and the governmental part of the legal industry, tends to move very slowly and very cautiously. And for good reasons! I mean—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —they’re dealing with some really heavy stuff that affects people’s lives, so, you can’t have the, “Let’s move fast and break shit” mentality in—

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —the courts, right?

Dan Johnson, CEO: Government doesn’t work that way! Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah! But thinking it through, if I’m ever back in the court room, what I want is an augmented reality view of all the jurors sitting around, and so they raise their hand, and the software just goes, “Okay! That guy just raised his hand. That guy—” and it marks it, and stuff like that.

So you could have a compiled data view of, “Okay, this person responded this way to this and this way to that and it’s weighted this for your client, it’s weighted this way for—” so you’ve got some kind of algorithmic-based or even artificial intelligence-based help there. I mean, ‘cause that’s really what juror consultants do, but there’s a lot of jury consultants out there that are great but there’s a lot of them that are just, frankly, quacks. You know?

Dan Johnson, CEO: [laughs]

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: [laughing] It’s almost like magic, like I can determine what’s in your mind and your history by looking at the contours of your face, for example. I’ve had that pitch. And I find that—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Is that right?

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —very hard to believe.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah. I’m sure some attorneys have had good results with consultants like that, but is it that it’s actually effective? Because it’s not data-driven and you can’t go back and you can’t prove whether it worked or not.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Or is it the case of, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day?”

Dan Johnson, CEO: Right.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: And so, there’s just enough data that it works as well as it doesn’t work.

Dan Johnson, CEO: I’ll give a pitch. I’m a member of a group called the American Society of Trial Consultants. It’s not super well-known but it’s a really good group of sort of legit jury consultants—a lot of PhDs and stuff like that—so if you are in the market for a jury consultant—

Because I imagine there must be some people that are kinda like—I haven’t come across them but I’m sure they’re out there—that are fortune teller types. So how do you know whether somebody’s legit or not? One decent way, at least one potential filter, is to check that group out. Because I’ve found, at least jury consultants there, they’re all nice, they’re all smart, and they’re sort of humble as well about the predictive value of anything.

But it’s helpful to suggest which questions to ask. To your point: are you a lion or a sheep? Are you exhibiting leadership qualities? What’s your general inclination towards authority? Your general inclination towards—are you science-based or sort of science skeptic? Depending on what your case is. And how do you feel about law enforcement, generally? So those kind of things can be helpful heuristics. But that’s their industry a little bit more than mine.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It’s also something that if they can provide data, and especially if there’s comparative analytics, not only what happens within the trial, but to the extent that if a jury consultant says, “This person is likely to vote ‘not guilty,’” and you interview the jury afterwards and that person was like, “I knew that person was guilty from the second I saw him. He just had that guilty look about him” and so the jury consultant is flat wrong, those are statistics that I think somebody involved as a litigant in the justice system should be entitled to know. And to the extent that that can be democratized, I think that that makes a very interesting argument for making jury trials more fair and more transparent.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s sort of like—we get requests for data. There’re data vendors out there, and one of the values we try to bring is making that data—which, you get a big spreadsheet on somebody, and what do you do with it? So, we can put it into JurorSearch so it’s intuitive userface, and incorporating your trial notes, and have your per-juror discussion.

But all data is imperfect. A lot of it is based off of public opinion surveys and building a model and assigning a score to every voter, every resident in the commercial file and saying, “This person is in the 22nd decile of support for Black Lives Matter,” or “This person is a believer in reproductive freedom at the 81st.” Well, is it 81 or 75 or 92—who knows? People are complicated. People can change their minds a little bit. But there’s definitely a demand for some number attached to a person that gives some predictive value about how that person—what that person’s values are, how they think. And there are vendors out there, but nothing is 100%—nothing’s certain. You do the best you can with what you have.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, and reading people is becoming a different art because there’s this disconnect. A lot of the true expression—or the unfiltered expression—is done online. Some of it’s done anonymously. After being cooped up in their houses for so long with the pandemic—is the old way of reading people, is it still—I just think you’ve got a lot of opportunity here to really change an industry. It just seems like—really with all legal tech—but especially with trial tech and what you’re doing, there’s just such a window right now for it.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Cool, thanks! The social media stuff is interesting, ‘cause in the last year I think all of us got on it a lot more ‘cause we couldn’t really talk to people. And so, there’s definitely a demand for scraping through if there’s time, depending on how early you get the venire. If you get it a few days before, then you can go look on the large social media platforms. And a lot of times people will say—if it’s criminal trial—Blue Lives Matter, or participating in the George Floyd protests. And that gives you a really good indication how they’re gonna feel when the state says, “This person did it,” and whether you think that state official is telling the truth or not.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: That’s really interesting. Have you experimented with, or looked into, tapping into some of the APIs that are available to maybe automate some of that? Or is that even possible? I know that there’s some data aggregation that can happen.

Dan Johnson, CEO: At least some.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: I know that the whole privacy argument is maybe closing the door to that a little bit.

Dan Johnson, CEO: So for social media, a lot of clients ask for it. They kinda want to be able to press a button and do a scrape. But if it’s out there, I haven’t found it. What I’ve found is happening is that there are people that get pretty good at going through people’s accounts quickly and scanning for something that jumps out. But I don’t think the web-scrapers or the AI or whatever has evolved to the point where it’s better than humans at finding what is relevant to learning about some bias or inclination of a juror. It may get there, but it doesn’t seem to be there today.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: It begs the question—talking with a friend who’s more of an old school physician nearing retirement about how he sees what he’s done and how he sees the physicians that are just coming out of medical school unable to make some of the same calls, make some of the on-the-fly diagnoses and adjustments, and so forth, because they’re so much more technology-dependent. I wonder if the whole art, if you will, that human element—I wonder to what extent that’s gonna be kind of a dying breed as these technologies, in terms of reading people and compiling that type of data about people, becomes more available.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, I do hear that from the consultants that say, “All the data’s great. It’s helpful. But reading the person, and being there in the same room, especially when there’s a group, and being able to ask a follow-up question and seeing how the juror next to him reacts to that question and that answer, and just sort of reading people—” I’m not a jury consultant, I don’t pick ‘em—but I do hear them say that “It’s great to have all this information organized. What we think—have it clearly organized, convey it to the attorney so the attorney can act on it,” but they do say, “We’re doing some virtual trials; it’s harder because you cannot be seeing the person live and just reading whether they’re hostile or apathetic or engaged.”

Or what they say is, “We’re really worried about the quiet one that really wants to be on the jury to make a point.” So that’s one that both sides are scared of. Somebody’s who’s like, “I’m anti-Monsanto so I really wanna get on this one,” or like “I’m against big companies so I can’t wait to make a point,” or “I’m against the police so I really want to get on this jury,” or whatever it is. That’s what I keep hearing, is sort of a lot of jury selection is deselection. Making sure the worst ones for you aren’t on. Which all seems fair from a systems perspective, right? So, you end up with people that can be fair and aren’t in there to be an advocate.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Yeah, that’s the whole point of it, to eliminate those with biases. But the goal is to stack it in your favor as much as you possibly can, and, in the process, from the duty of the individual attorney. Interesting.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, it’s a really cool process. Super interesting. But you’re right, it’s just very hard to do on paper.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: So, for our audience that’s interested in jumping into this product. I’ve looked at the product; this is our second discussion about it. I think it’s something that if I were doing jury trials right now, I would definitely want to experiment with. So, my next question would be: how do I get it, and what does it cost?

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah! Thank you. So, it’s on jurorsearch.com. We’re happy to offer anybody a free trial. We changed our pricing. We just keep hearing people want a per trial price. We thought of ourselves as a SaaS company so we thought, “We’ll charge a monthly subscription of $1,000 a month, or an annual for $10,000.” People just said, “No, I just don’t want to do monthly. Maybe I’ll get annual if I have the volume.”

So it just switched to a per trial, thousand dollar, $999, and then if people want a free trial, feel free! Give it a shot. And then just give me your feedback afterwards, so we can improve the product. So if you try it, and you like it, and you find that it’s more efficient, more productive, and you’re not losing notes—which is inevitable when you’re writing stuff down—then go ahead and buy a trial. And if you really like it with your office, buy it for the year! And then you have unlimited trials.

But it’s meant for unlimited users, even with per trial, because it’s built for collaboration. So, get a few more people on it so they can take the notes. So that your questioning attorney can read the people and then see all those notes at a glance in the way that he or she likes to see it, either visually, or list. If you want somebody to prompt you, have big text or small text. Whatever that attorney likes on his or her screen, that’s the whole point.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: I think that this is something that’s gonna catch on. I think it’s an idea whose time has come. I’m excited to see where this goes. I’m excited to hear stories about attorneys that have used it and courtrooms that have used it. I really hope that you make a lot of progress with the courts. Because I really think that if you can get this into the courts, you’re gonna change the face of jury selection, and it’s about time.

I know we’re right at about time here, at about the hour mark, and I wanna make sure that we wrap up with anything else that you would like our listeners to know, either about you or about your product. So—

Dan Johnson, CEO: Oh, thanks!

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: —I’ll let you have the last word.

Dan Johnson, CEO: Yeah, I appreciate it! Thanks again, Dan. This is a lot of fun, and I appreciate you chatting with me. I guess the one thing, if you’re on the government side, is we just this week announced government discounts. So you know like Westlaw, and they all have deep discounts for government. So it’s just interesting, we did this discount based on your population. So, if you’re on the public defender side or the prosecutors’ side, we made it a lot more accessible: 90% off if you’re a tiny little jurisdiction or 50% off if you’re medium, something like that.

But I guess I’d also like to ask—interestingly, in our market, it’s bifurcated where there’s top tier—not top tier, but high-end, high dollar civil litigators that we’re pricing it for, but there’s also a bunch of solos and small firms where, even though it’s the same product, we’re just in different markets. So, how to price that, for a more accessible price, for solos or criminal defense attorneys, where they might say, “I’d love to have it, but 1,000 bucks is out of budget ‘cause I’ve got lower rates.” I’d be curious to hear folks say—how do you price something for one class of customers and then another class?

So, that’s sort of the experiment we’re on as jury trials open up. But that’s why I’d love to offer people a free trial. Try it and then tell me what you think’s sort of a reasonable price for you. ‘Cause who knows, right? We’re discovering.

Dan Jaffe, Attorney: Thank you. Alright, well, we’re gonna go ahead and sign off for today. Again, can you say the name of your company one more time and then your website so people can go right to it?

Dan Johnson, CEO: Thank you. It’s Jurorsearch (J-U-R-O-R-S-E-A-R-C-H), and it’s jurorsearch.com.