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Are male lawyers overconfident?

 

overconfidence

When asked to predict the outcome of their cases, lawyers are often too optimistic, according to a survey published this month in the American Psychological Association’s Psychology, Public Policy & Law.

Shockingly, male attorneys were generally more overconfident than their female peers, and the more confident the lawyer, the more likely he would fall short of his predicted outcome.

Specifically, the study asked two questions of 481 American lawyers representing plaintiffs and defendants in cases expected to go to trial within a year. First, they were asked, “What would be a win situation in terms of your minimum goal for the outcome of this case?” Second, they were asked how confident they were of achieving the goal set in their first answer, on a scale of 0 to 100.  When the researchers conducted follow-up interviews, they found that 32 percent of the lawyers met their goals, 24 percent exceeded their goals and 44 percent were less successful than predicted.

The research also found that the accuracy of lawyers’ predictions about case outcomes was not improved by years of experience.  In fact,  many of the most overconfident lawyers were senior partners who do not typically seek out feedback.

One good idea:  ”Practitioners should also consider regularly obtaining customer feedback by sending their clients anonymous survey questionnaires at the close of every case; these should include questions that target the issues surrounding the management of client expectations about the achievement of goals in a particular case.”


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