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The importance of knowing your judge

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

There’s no such thing as a sure thing when you walk into a courtroom. That’s why even the most seasoned litigators can still feel some level of anxiety when making an argument before a judge.

The reason for this is simple. Judges aren’t computers into which attorneys feed competing arguments and get predictable outcomes. They are human beings, with their own beliefs and experiences that shape how they interpret laws, apply facts, and consider arguments.

Some lawyers rely on experience or anecdotal evidence from other attorneys about specific judges and their propensities on the bench. Although some attorneys may have found some success with this approach, it isn’t exactly the most reliable method for attorneys to build an argument or case strategy around. After all, this anecdotal evidence still has the same fatal flaws as most anecdotal evidence: small sample size.

Think about it this way: Just because attorney A and attorney B had a certain experience with a judge, doesn’t mean that you will also.

But what if you had a much larger sample size?

Make data-driven legal decisions

Litigation Analytics on Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge allows you access to large pools of data on judges and their decisions. It uses AI technology to analyze, compile, and display massive amounts of information. This information can be indispensable to forming your case strategy, honing your arguments, and setting appropriate client expectations.

How often does your judge rule in favor of the plaintiff or defendant in your specific case type? Litigation Analytics can tell you.

Use data-driven insights to build a case strategy

Why does it matter? Armed with this added knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about navigating your case.

For instance, your judge, who is currently hearing your motion for summary judgment in a contract dispute, has previously ruled on 500 other such motions. According to data found in Litigation Analytics, your judge has a below-average rate for granting plaintiff’s summary judgment motions. Knowing this, you decide you need to dig in a little deeper.

You can research the recent cases on which your judge has ruled favorably for similarly-situation parties with comparable facts, examining the types of arguments that were successful in persuading your judge — and apply them to your own case as much as possible.

Manage your client’s expectations

Let’s say, however, that you don’t get a favorable decision from the judge. With Litigation Analytics, you can see how often your judge’s decisions have been appealed, and how often the appeals court overturned those decisions. While a greater-than-average rate of reversal from the appeals court for your judge obviously doesn’t guarantee success by itself, it’s valuable data to share with your client during your discussion on the decision to appeal an adverse decision.

With the kind of data offered by Litigation Analytics, attorneys can give hard numbers to back up what they tell their clients about what to expect. Instead of expecting your client to take your word for it, you can point to the actual data to support your assertions.

Get access to this data today

Westlaw Edge gives you the data you need to make better decisions and increase your chances of success in the courtroom. See what a difference it makes to your case strategy when you know your judge.

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