TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kritzer & Vidmar on Juror Hostility to Defendants in Legal Malpractice Cases

Herb Kritzer (Minnesota) and Neil Vidmar (Duke) have posted to SSRN Lawyers on Trial:  Juror Hostility to Defendants in Legal Malpractice Cases.  The abstract provides:

In contrast to medical malpractice, legal malpractice is a phenomenon that has attracted little attention from empirically-oriented scholars. This paper is part of a larger study of legal malpractice claiming and litigation. Given the evidence on the frequency of legal malpractice claims, there are surprisingly few legal malpractice cases that result in jury verdicts. There are many possible explanations for this, one of which reflects the perception that lawyers are held in such low esteem by potential jurors that they risk harsh treatment by jurors when they are defendants in legal malpractice trials.  Because we could find no empirical evidence that that either supported or rejected the reality of this perception, we designed a simple jury simulation experiment to test this as an hypothesis. Using three different case scenarios, each in two forms (one set within a legal malpractice framework and one outside legal malpractice), we found support for the hypothesis in only one of the three scenarios and even there the effects were at best modest. These results held up controlling for other possible factors that might influence juror responses to the case scenarios.

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