A very interesting piece in the New York Times.
"Note to victims of accidents, medical malpractice, broken contracts and the like: When you sue, make a deal.
That is the clear lesson of a soon-to-be-released study of civil lawsuits that has found that most of the plaintiffs who decided to pass up a settlement offer and went to trial ended up getting less money than if they had taken that offer
“The lesson for plaintiffs is, in the vast majority of cases, they are perceiving the defendant’s offer to be half a loaf when in fact it is an entire loaf or more,” said Randall L. Kiser, a co-author of the study and principal analyst at DecisionSet, a consulting firm that advises clients on litigation decisions.
Defendants made the wrong decision by proceeding to trial far less often, in 24 percent of cases, according to the study; plaintiffs were wrong in 61 percent of cases. In just 15 percent of cases, both sides were right to go to trial — meaning that the defendant paid less than the plaintiff had wanted but the plaintiff got more than the defendant had offered.
The vast majority of cases do settle — from 80 to 92 percent by some estimates, Mr. Kiser said — and there is no way to know whether either side in those cases could have done better at trial. But the findings, based on a study of 2,054 cases that went to trial from 2002 to 2005, raise provocative questions about how lawyers and clients make decisions, the quality of legal advice and lawyers’ motives."
In the heat of a litigtion battle it is very easy for both sides to start focusing on the trial and to over-estimate the capacity to win a case be that in increased/lowered award depending on whether one is claiming or defending a claim.
Lawyers motives is a difficult issue. When I discuss cases with lawyers generally most are concerned about obtaining the best deal for clients. Is there something amiss? How many lawyers are genuinely concerned about solely themselves and will focus just on getting their fee come what may. Not many from my experience but maybe I live too detached a life.
But. Within the Uk lawyer fees particularly at the top end have rocketed. As is the way there will be justification but from what I am seeing there is some exploitataion of clients. The market is not yet operating with efficiency. Long term this makes law firms vulnerable to attack once the legal market is opened up to non lawyers.