Suzanne Edwards Irvin Suzanne Edwards Irvin.

In the paradigm shift of digital transformation, communicating with millennials becomes a tool for personal injury attorneys in effectively arguing to a jury. Digital transformation eludes to new ways information is gathered and communicated. Millennials process information in new and complex ways often distinct from other generations in diverse juries. Effective communication with millennials helps personal injury attorneys engage a subsection of a jury in a manner that resonates with the fast-paced style of information gathering seen in this paradigm shift from traditional to digital assimilation.

Different states utilize different means to secure data for jury duty notification. This list includes voter registration, records of property ownership as well as records from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Although this list is not complete nor standard across all states, it gives a good representation of the jury pools available to personal injury attorneys. There are nearly 75 million millennials in the United States in which to populate the jury pools. According to statistics, millennials were born during the approximate birth years of 1979 to 1995. They are between the ages of 20 and 36 and number slightly greater than baby boomers currently in the United States. It is important to understand how millennials assimilate information in the post-paradigm shift of digital transformation to allow effective communication between lawyer and an important subset of a jury.

Baby boomers primarily assimilate information under traditional methods coming of age prior to the digital boom. Millennials came of age during the digital boom and in turn commonly assimilate information primarily through the lens of digital transformation. Using a small snapshot of available research, noted authors on generational theories of baby boomers Howard Schuman and Jacqueline Scott assign traits to baby boomers in two groups. Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1955 traditionally exhibit traits such as experimental, individualism, free spirited and social cause oriented. Baby boomers born between 1956 and 1964 traditionally exhibit traits such as less optimistic, distrust of government and general cynicism. Noted authors on generational theory of millennials William Strauss and Neil Howe assign seven traditional traits to millennials. They include traits such as special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured and achieving. Although it is not possible to assign all traits to all millennials, these traits give personal injury attorneys tools to work with when addressing millennial jurors in contrast to baby boomers. Understanding there is a difference in how baby boomers and millennials process information allows personal injury attorneys to craft an effective narrative and present same to a complex jury in a manner beneficial to their argument.

So why is it important to know what constitutes a millennial compared to a baby boomer and why is the paradigm shift of digital transformation an important tool for a personal injury lawyer? The perfect jury would be comprised of individuals who you are certain align with your thought patterns of the case and would not only agree with your conclusions but afford you with the largest verdict in the history of all juries. Most presiding jurors (or forepersons) are usually the older more “experienced” member of a jury or a younger more “aggressive” member of a jury. To acknowledge there is a difference in styles is to recognize that baby boomers and millennials tend toward different patterns as jurors. It is unlikely to empanel the perfect jury so you need to understand the makeup of an imperfect jury and how you can appeal to their patterns of assimilating information to sway a complex panel to your side.

Baby boomers learn information assimilation in a more rigid learning style utilized in traditional schooling. This includes the skill orientation of reading, writing and arithmetic. Millennials trend toward multisensory learning. Technology is front and center in their everyday lives. It is embedded in their daily routines, how they communicate, how they consume news, in their interpersonal relationships and other important, and even mundane, ways. This reliance on technology is part and parcel of the paradigm shift of digital transformation. Technology in and of itself is only part of the package. The information millennials glean from the use of technology goes through an additional process of assimilation different than traditional methods. It is important to provide the information in a technological setting and then to offer methods to take this information and process it in ways that make sense to this subset of a jury that resonates with their learning style.

The difference between baby boomers and millennials, in weighing static evidence, is foundational versus relational thinking. Baby boomers process evidence in a manner that the conclusion is inferred. Millennials process evidence in a manner that the connections are relevant. Millennials often fare best with multisensory and relational evidence. A combination of audio, kinesthetic and video learning helps millennials assimilate information in ways that speak to their shorter attention spans and need for relevance rather than stand-alone evidence. Personal injury attorneys have the ability to utilize technology in presenting evidence to appeal to millennials. Evidence presented in digitized form and in a directed narrative affords the millennials the ability to process the information in a way that suits their learning style.

Personal injury attorneys have two basic tools to pull from when presenting evidence to millennials.

  • Spell it out. Present static evidence using digital technology such as video presentations and digitized documentation. Create the narrative you want the jury to process. Taking out the guess work and directing the narrative feeds the millennials the appropriate information for them to assimilate. Using technology to employ this narrative speaks directly to their wheelhouse.
  • Relate each new piece of evidence to previously discussed evidence and lead them to the connections. Once you have established the narrative, relate each piece of evidence to prior evidence to match their learning style. In everyday life, millennials trend toward snippets of information familiar in platforms such as blogs and online publications. These types of platforms utilize tools such as hyperlinks. The use of hyperlinks is to provide further context and relate information. Although you cannot utilize hyperlinks in providing information to juries, you can utilize the science behind this type of relational information in directing the narrative for millennials. If done properly, baby boomers will infer the conclusion you presented and millennials will make the relational connections and come to the same conclusions.

Suzanne Edwards Irvin received her master’s degree in history at West Chester University in 2017. She honed her research skills during her 15-plus-year career in the legal field as a primary researcher. She is a digital curator for S.E. Irvin and a freelance writer.