Where are they now? Dr. Geri Satin

The College of Arts, Sciences & Education prepares students for life after graduation to become successful leaders in the community. We went on a search to find CASE alumni who are thriving in their careers. This is one in a series we’ve titled, Where are they now?

Geri Satin

If you’ve ever watched “Bull” – a drama inspired by the early career of Dr. Phil who founded one of the most successful consulting firms of all time – you’ve seen a glimpse of Dr. Geri Satin’s life in the courtroom.

Before beginning her career as a senior trial consultant, the Miami native attended the University of Florida, where she received dual bachelor degrees in English and criminology. She then returned home and earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law.

With three degrees in hand, Satin got to work.

“I got my law degree and I worked at a large, prominent law firm in Miami for a number of years and I was exposed to jury trials,” Satin said. “I realized I was more interested in the psychology aspect of what we were doing than the actual legal process.”

She chose to follow her passion. 

In 2013, Satin went back to school, but this time she was repping the blue and gold.

“FIU has a prominent and well respected legal psychology program with national publications [in] top journals in the field and some really cutting edge faculty,” she said.

“I got the opportunity to work with Dr. Ronald Fisher, who has spearheaded the Cognitive Interview, is known in the field and is very well respected.”

She did research in Dr. Fisher’s Cognitive Laboratory, where she explored whether or not the Cognitive Interview improves police job performance. She defended her dissertation in 2017.

In the midst of earning her Doctor of Philosophy in Legal Psychology, Satin and her business partner, Marjorie J. Sommer, Esq., opened the doors of Focus Litigation Consulting, LLC – an elite national jury research and trial consulting firm.

“So essentially what we do is help trial teams pretest their cases,” Satin said. “We do mock trials and focus groups and recruit jurors and attorneys to put on case presentations. We see what the problem areas of the case are before they go to actual trial so they can fix that before they settle a case if they need to before trial.”

Geri accepting DBR award

Focus Litigation Consulting stands out among its competitors. Apart from receiving recognition from The Daily Business Review with the On the Rise Award in 2019, both founding partners are attorneys – something that is not required in this field.

“We are providing legal-based recommendations because we understand how trials work and the rules of evidence,” Satin said. “Lawyers can actually use [the recommendations] in their case. I think the fact I do have a legal background and my partner does as well sets us apart from some of the other people in the field.”

The company is small in size with a team of five, but large in scope nationally as they travel around the country.

“When we do a mock trial or a focus group, we go to the trial venue. Even if we are hired by a law firm in Miami, if the case is pending in Georgia, we will go wherever it is in Georgia and that is where [we] conduct the mock trial. Jurors in that particular area are going to view the case different[ly] from jurors in Miami for a variety of reasons.”

The mother of two under five spends half the month traveling.

“We call ourselves ‘Road Warriors.’ I was in Durango, Colo. for six days. Three days prior to that we were in Philadelphia. Next is New York [then] Cleveland to Chicago to Naples, Fla.” 

What does the future look like for Satin?

She still works closely with Dr. Fisher and they are working on follow up research to a study published in Law and Human Behavior. Satin recently submitted a proposal to the Internal Review Board with FIU for approval.

Satin and Sommers
Photo courtesy Dylan Jackson / ALM

As far as her company goes, “What I hope is that our business continues to grow and that we can staff it so we can be in more places at once,” Satin said.

Vested in immersing people into the field, Focus Litigation Consulting offers internship opportunities. Those interested can visit the company’s website and fill out the contact form.

“Get exposure to the field. There is not one path to becoming a trial consultant.”