Analytics: “There aren’t many clear cut ‘winners’ in domestic proceedings.”

Jan 29, 2015

Analytics

Analytics has confirmed what family law attorneys have known anecdotally for a long time:  There are not many clear cut winners in divorce cases in court.

Analytics has taken root in almost every industry in the world. Now it’s even made it’s way to the notoriously mushy world of family law.

As described in this article in the Miami Herald, an analytics firm recently dug into data from litigated (i.e. outcome decided by a judge) family law cases in Miami.  The results paint a pretty ugly picture for anyone considering asking a court to determine their divorce and related legal outcomes.

According to the researchers, the results of the analysis revealed three important dynamics:

1. Favoritism exists: Judges appear to have favorite lawyers and those favorites fare better with those judges.

2. Big firms offer a 7% outcome benefit, but for a significantly higher cost.

3. More expensive attorneys do not win more than less expensive attorneys.

There are some caveats to be mentioned here in my mind:  First, it could be that good lawyers choose their battles more effectively, settle their weaker cases or prepare more effectively; and that could be why they have higher win rates with particular judges.  Favoritism is one possible explanation, but it may not be the correct one.  The numbers are curious nonetheless.

Another caveat is given by the authors, but it is even more alarming than the results!  The researchers admit that “determining win rates is highly problematic.”  Why?  Because, “there really aren’t many clear ‘winners’ in domestic proceedings.”

The researchers go so far as to claim that “Family law is the Wild West of the Legal profession.”  (Que the Gunsmoke theme music)

Given all of this, it seems that a savvy consumer would steer clear of court when getting divorced.  Choosing a process that allows them to determine their own outcome and allows both parties to define their own “win” seems to me to be a far better choice than “the Wild West.”

The good news is that in North Carolina, there are great alternatives to the Wild West. Collaborative Law allows a divorcing couple to keep their divorce out of high noon duels in the courtroom.  It allows a couple to sit down and negotiate a resolution face to face with the help of their attorneys, and other professionals.  There are no bullets to dodge, no posses to round up (and pay), and no hired guns to fear.

The objective evidence against getting a positive divorce outcome in court continues to mount.  It’s a good thing alternatives exist.

 

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