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Aimee Fagan and Lara Dolnik (L_R) Aimee Fagan, a trial partner at Sidley Austin, and Lara Dolnik, the founder of Dolnik Consulting.

As the pandemic has continued well past early expectations, lawyers and the courts have had to adapt. Some courts have adopted virtual proceedings—both for jury selection and complete jury trials. Meanwhile, trial lawyers and jury consultants who are accustomed to gathering pretrial intelligence at live mock trials are less able to recruit and assemble mock jurors for such exercises. But there is another viable option: virtual mock trials.

First, a little background. As we were coming out of lockdown, we were preparing for an imminent jury trial in a commercial case. We did not know whether the court would hold voir dire or the entire trial virtually, and who amongst us has enough experience with virtual trials at this point? We also wanted the valuable information that can be gained in conducting a mock trial before trial. So we elected to conduct a mock voir dire and mock jury trial through Zoom. Along the way, we gained valuable insight and experience, while also getting what we wanted: information and feedback to use at trial.

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