Lawyers must evaluate cases and try to predict the most likely outcome. To be successful, to attract and win clients, they must do so with confidence. A recent study of the accuracy of those predictions, however, reveals that lawyers are often overconfident and overly optimistic in their assessments of a client’s case.
A recent study published in Psychology, Public Policy and Law revealed that the more confidence a lawyer expressed in his or her ability to achieve a possible result, the more likely he or she will fail to achieve those results. You can read the full article here (Insightful or Wishful – Lawyers Ability to Predict Case Outcomes.pdf).
The lesson appears to be that clients might want to maintain some skepticism about the results that the supremely confident lawyer predicts, even as they recognize that the statistics don’t tell the whole story. The lawyer who doesn’t believe in a case, or who lacks confidence will have a difficult time being the zealous advocate that is the touchstone of an effective litigator. We may not meet our lofty goals as often, but that is not to say that we don’t do better for our clients when we are confident in the case. In our next post, we’ll take a look at predicting the outcome in a business dispute case.