Some readers may remember the story of Brevard County Florida Judge John Murphy who went medieval on lawyer Andrew Weinstock back in 2014, challenging the public defender to step outside the courtroom to duke it out, and then proceeding to do exactly that. Or New York’s Judge Robert Beltrani who drunkenly took out a mouthy Legal Aid attorney outside a ritzy Manhattan party with a right cross that left the lawyer with a black eye and a separated shoulder. Suffice it to say, not every relationship between bar and bench is a healthy one—which can be very bad news for an insurance claims manager caught in the middle.
Unfortunately, not every courthouse blood feud raises such easily Googled red flags. The judge – lawyer pairing has a huge, and quantifiable, effect on the outcome of any case, but prior to the advent of modern legal analytics software, the only source of information about it was gossip and hearsay. There’s no telling how often that lack of knowledge has spelled grim outcomes for otherwise well-prepared insurers entering the litigation process with millions (or hundreds of millions) on the line. Even a great attorney will only perform as well as the judge allows them to.
Few judges would openly cop to a bias toward or against specific lawyers, and fewer still would allow the matter to escalate to fisticuffs, but personal likes and dislikes are part of human nature. It’s more difficult to hide these foibles from litigation management software like Premonition’s open case reports. Predictive analytics forecast the probable outcome of litigation by taking into account factors like how often plaintiffs win in a given jurisdiction and case type, as well as how the judge has ruled in similar cases in the past. Below you’ll find an example of how much a lawyer’s performance can be skewed by the judge paring.
This report is based on a real attorney, although we’ve omitted their name for privacy reasons. As you can see, the lawyer’s overall win rate before all judges comes in at 30%, but the swing from their most advantageous match-up (69%) to their least (12%) is a staggering 55%! That’s a massive difference that any claims manager would be wise to bear in mind, and it’s hardly unique to this example.
Legal analytics software allows claims managers to get a look under the hood (or robes?) as it were, to see how the judge – lawyer pairing really works. It spies out those lawyers that have vastly over- or under-performed before the judge assigned to the case. Why these outliers have earned such amity or enmity from the bench is beyond the scope of a computer’s insights, but what’s important is knowing how a potential hire affects your probability of reaching a fair settlement with a claimant, or feeling like you were the one who got slugged in the jaw by a fat man with a gavel. It’s a vital tool for the modern claims manager and litigation management.
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