4 PerspectivesJuly 9, 2009
For advanced decision analysis in litigation, where do we start? Last week we began to take our series on decision trees to the next level with Part I of our interview with Marc Victor of Litigation Risk Analysis, Inc., who pioneered the use of decision trees in dispute resolution and litigation in the 1970s. This post is Part II of that two-part interview, in Q & A format.
Marc, people often say that the “inputs” on a decision tree — the probabilities of various outcomes — are imprecise. One of the the comments to our first post on decision trees put it this way:
The theoretical problem is with the assignment of probabilities and their meaning. Unless you are just goofing around with numbers, the assignment of a probability to an event presupposes that there is a frequency of similar events to count. This is hardly ever true in litigation, unless restricted to something like employment dismissal cases. Even then, I have trouble interpreting the numbers as anything more than subjective probabilities, i.e. just goofing around with numbers.
Is this a fair criticism?
I don’t think so. First, it’s not a question of probabilities being “precise” or More…
8 PerspectivesJuly 3, 2009
A .pdf version of this advanced decision tree is available here.
Decision Tree Analysis isn’t new to litigation, and it isn’t new to this site either — we discussed the basics and more a few months ago. But when you’re ready for an advanced take on the subject, where do you turn? All roads lead to Marc B. Victor, Esq., who pioneered the application of decision tree analysis to litigation in the 1970s.
Through his company, Litigation Risk Analysis, Inc., Marc has taught decision tree analysis in the litigation context to over 10,000 senior legal professionals, some of whom no doubt had a hand in the American College of Civil Trial Mediators awarding Marc their Education Award of Excellence in 2003. Marc was kind enough to guide me a bit when we began our series on decision trees a few months ago, and I have wanted to flesh out some of the details with him since those initial discussions. The Q&A below is the result of our recent follow-up interview.
How did you first put together litigation management and the decision tree concept?
It was truly fortuitous. I was a joint JD/MBA student at Stanford in the mid-1970s and had a summer job for a company bringing an antitrust suit against IBM. I happened to have lunch with one of our lawyers the same day the president had asked him if $10 million would be a reasonable settlement. As our lawyer walked me through what might happen if we went to trial — “if More…
2 PerspectivesJanuary 21, 2009
We recently explored what decision trees are and how to create them in Decision Tree Analysis: The Basics. While it’s important to revisit the basics on occasion, it seems the biggest hurdle for decision trees isn’t teaching people that this tool is out there — it’s convincing mediators, lawyers and their clients to actually try them in the first place. Why should you?
From the client’s perspective there are two good reasons to use decision trees: better decisions and happier clients.
16 PerspectivesJanuary 4, 2009
A sample Decision Tree, available in .pdf format here.
I remember my first mediation decision tree. It was late in the day, just before impasse, and our mediator was desperate to show my client and me that we had misvalued the case. As he sketched it for us the approach made sense, but that was no time to pick up a new technique. His effort ended no different than most attempts to learn about decision trees on the fly — with a confused client, a frustrated mediator and a lawyer about to change the subject.
Fifteen years later I know the value of a decision tree and, just as important, how to really use one — in connection with settlement discussions and as a part of an Early Case Assessment before settlement talks begin. Admittedly they take a little effort and some practice, but whether you’re a lawyer or a mediator or their client, you’ll see one soon. Knowing what a decision tree is and how to diagram yours More…