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Generation Gap

The stereotypical Generation-Xer is an unmotivated slacker--angry at society, shaggy haired and flannel-shirt wearing, suspicious of authority and reluctant to get a job. From the traditional corporate defendant's perspective, that's the last person you'd want to decide the company's fate in a large litigation. But litigators can no longer afford to simply ignore that segment of the population. The people who grew up alongside Kurt Cobain are now in their 30s. Generation X and the one that follows it, Generation Y, now constitute about 52 percent of the jury pool, and companies will undoubtedly have to place those people on juries going forward.

Instead of automatically eliminating young people in voir dire or hoping Gen-Xers will fall in line with older jurors, companies need to learn the strategies that will enable them to present their cases in ways that capture the attention of younger jurors.

Along with being tech-savvy has come facility with receiving information from many sources at the same time and a short attention span.

"People in this generation will watch CNN, listen to music on their headphones, play Xbox and study all at the same time," says Brent Dobbs, president of Courtroom Sciences. "This means that they are accustomed to receiving constant streams of information from a variety of sources at once. You have to mix up the media you use."

"The most important thing for any juror, but particularly for the younger jurors, is presenting information in a way that lets them come to their own conclusions," says Tucker Clauss, a litigation partner with Wiggin and Dana. "Don't hit them over the head with a hammer. You need to present the information and allow them to do their own analysis and thinking."

staff Writer

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