Should Lawyers Influence Outcomes?

June 28, 2015

Ran across this little nugget doing legal research on a case.  If only it were completely true:

The argument also assumes, quite wrongly, that lawyers make all the difference in outcomes, as if the merits of a case or the interests of justice didn’t count for much. (In reality it should be the other way around to the degree that it is true at all.) All judges regularly see cases where the better lawyer rightfully lost because he or she should have lost, regardless of skill. (And that is by whatever criteria you choose to measure relative legal skill, e.g., perceptivity, knowledge, organization, or ever plain diligence.) In any sane system of justice, the merits, rather than the skill of lawyers, should control the ultimate disposition.

Chen v. County of Orange, 96 Cal. App. 4th 926, 948 (2002).

It is absolutely true that the merits should control the ultimate disposition, but in my career I’ve seen a lot of improper results due to lawyers’ skills (or lack thereof).

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