The Player: Duboff mixes legal training with marketing background

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After 25 years of guiding branding decisions, Robert Duboff has found a way to combine his education as a lawyer with his long career as a marketer.

DecisionQuest-a consulting firm specializing in trial consulting and jury research-wants to expand its expertise to advise marketers on new products and brand strategy, and has tapped Mr. Duboff, 54, to lead that effort.

A former marketer at Ernst & Young, Mr. Duboff recently joined as a senior VP to start DecisionQuest's Strategic Marketing Group. Launching a product is not exactly the same as mounting a legal defense, but the two share some of the same characteristics.

"I do believe it's the same discipline," said Mr. Duboff, who is based in Boston. "It starts with understanding your target." Trial consulting uses research to analyze possible reactions to courtroom strategies, much like marketers try to anticipate how the market will react to a product, he explained.

"When you're doing trials, what you're doing is thinking what the other guy is going to do...[Strategic Marketing] is trying to add those thought processes," he said. "Everybody who works for us will learn about behavior and human nature. That's the essence of marketing."

"He is one of the foremost experts in the strategic end of trial consulting," said Philip Anthony, DecisionQuest's CEO.

Mr. Duboff worked on an early version of the same kind of trial consulting that is now DecisionQuest's specialty. In 1978, a friend who needed to help a law firm prepare for a case approached him. During that period, he met some of the researchers who went on to found DecisionQuest.

Starting the Strategic Marketing Group brought him back together with several acquaintances, including his partner in the group, VP Scott Berman, a former colleague at Mercer Management Consulting.


He began his consulting career at a Mercer predecessor, Temple Barker & Sloane, 25 years ago and helped found its marketing practice and litigation-support business. During his career at Mercer, he rose to VP specializing in strategic-marketing services and also served as the firm's first director of corporate marketing. He joined Ernst & Young LLP in August 2000, as director of national marketing for the North American operations, charged with overseeing all the marketing strategies for the consulting firm.

"Any good consultant should have been a client for a while, because the pressures are different," Mr. Duboff said. He left Ernst & Young in June of 2001, after the consulting unit was acquired by Cap Gemini and renamed Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

After leaving Ernst & Young, he worked independently and joined the faculty of Boston College, where he taught and developed education programs for business executives. He has remained on the faculty because he enjoys teaching. "One good thing about teaching is you get to reflect a lot. As a consultant, you reflect when someone pays you," he said.

Fast Facts

Name: Robert S. Duboff

Age: 54

Now: Senior VP, DecisionQuest

Challenge: Expand the trial consulting firm's services to product and services marketing.

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