Jury selection and persuasion is both an art and a science and many of the best trial lawyers in the country spend their entire careers improving their tradecraft in order to gain an advantage in jury trials. However, new challenges face trial lawyers as there are currently four distinct generational groups in the jury pool, each with their own unique traits and learning preferences that make effective communication with the diverse jury pool challenging for lawyers. I examine these groups in depth in my blog series: The Changing Face of Jury Selection.
Generally, there are four current generational groups that are eligible to serve on juries;
Traditionalists – Born between 1925 and 1945,
Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 and 1964,
Generation X – Born between 1965 and 1980, and
Generation Y (Millennials) Born between 1981 and 2006.
The generations are defined by the events that influenced them, the socioeconomic and political climates of the times, the level of access to and use of technology in education, as well as, daily life, their attitudes toward work and their work ethic.
Traditionalists are currently the eldest generation, but for one reason or another, many of them are still in the workforce and remain active in society. Traditionalists were influenced by the Great Depression, the Roaring 20’s, World War I & II, the Korean War and the G.I. Bill, and as a result they remain patriotic and loyal and that loyalty typically translates to loyalty in the workplace and Traditionalists usually work for one company their entire career. In addition, due to the strong military influence their general managerial style is a military-like, top down approach where the information comes from either one chief executive officer or a board of directors. Traditionalists believe in discipline, dedication, sacrifice, delayed gratification, duty before pleasure and law and order.
As one might expect, the Traditionalist generation’s approach to learning is also “traditional”. They learn for the purpose of acquiring information to assist them in their chosen career, they prefer “command and control” type structured learning and prefer a classroom structure. They still learn by doing and by reading printed materials and following instructions. It is fairly clear that the current jury system was tailored for this generation and the current structure provides the optimal conditions for conveying information to the Traditional generation.