The 6 Steps of the Scientific Method to Trial Law – related example:
- Observe: Make an observation.
A potential client comes in for a consultation with you and says they were in a car crash where the other driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol, and the potential client’s back has hurt ever since the crash. (You don’t even have to directly observe this!)
- Question: Ask questions about the observation and gather information.
There’s one critical question that needs to be answered in this case: Did the crash cause the back injury? While there are other questions (e.g., how likely is it that a jury will see it that way? How much is this case worth in damages?), these questions we come back to in the next step. When gathering information, you’ll know that you’ve had similar cases that have had positive outcomes for the client, and you’ll look through your client’s medical records to get a clearer picture of the case.
- Test: Test the hypothesis and predictions using a reproducible experiment.
At this time, you’d create a survey to ask a representative sample of the general public about the case to measure their sentiment towards it, how much support there is in favor of the plaintiff and defendant, and how much they would award in damages to your client.
- Redo: 6th Step In Scientific Method. The experiment should be reproduced enough times to ensure no inconsistency between observations/results and theory.
Ideally, you’d then repeat this survey to make sure that the results from the first survey didn’t occur as a fluke.
Grady Fuson, Oakland Athletics scout, Moneyball (2011 movie)
Of course, trial law isn’t the same as baseball: every case that you take on is very different from each other, and there are far fewer cases than baseball pitches. If every lawyer went to trial several hundred times per year, then we’d be able to measure lawyer performance analytics to the depth that baseball can! With far fewer data points (in this case, each case is a data point), it means that there’s more room for gut instinct, as data shouldn’t be the only thing used in these cases.
Dependent Variable Or Independent Variable you can go on the offensive and say, “I’ve collected data from 500 potential jurors on this case, and I know it’s worth at least $1,000,000 (or however much the jurors said the case was worth).” The defense may realize that you aren’t just basing your number on a gut instinct like they might have done and conclude that the case will cost them much more if it goes to trial.