Lawyers' Over-Confidence in Outcomes?

The role of lawyers is to evaluate cases and try to predict the most likely outcome.  To attract and win clients, arguably they must do so with confidence. A recent study of the accuracy of those predictions, however, contends that lawyers are often over-confident and overly optimistic in their assessments of a client's case.

The study, published in Psychology, Public Policy and Law in the USA, revealed that the more confidence a lawyer expressed in his or her ability to achieve a possible result, the more likely he or she was to be fail to achieve those results.

  • Would this apply here in the UK? In Scotland? What about predictions in the course of mediation?

  • Risk analysis is central to guiding a client through negotiations. And, often, each legal team is advising its client that it has better than even prospects of success: so, perhaps the outcome of the research is not so surprising? One party, at least, is going to be proved wrong if the matter proceeds to a judicial determination....

  • And a related question or two: why do some firms use mediation more regularly than others and why do some achieve a higher number of successful outcomes than others?