In my line of work, I sometimes feel like a professional gambler. I am often asked by clients to give them their odds of something happening. What are the chances of getting a good verdict after a jury trial? What are the chances of the judge ruling in my favor after a custody trial? I have been asked questions like this more times than I can count. I give answers as best as I can; I tell my clients if the odds favor them or if they do not. Knowing the odds of success at trial is important to understanding what a good settlement is, if your chances of success are good you can drive a harder bargain in negotiations. If they are not good, you should be prepared to make some serious concessions to avoid a trial.
The problem, while I can give odds, I can never guarantee the result. At the end of the day decisions in the legal system are made by human beings, judges, and jurors. We can predict what humans do in most cases, but we can never guarantee what they will do in a given case. I have won cases that I thought I would lose and lost ones that I thought I should have won. In that way the legal system is like other walks of life, sometimes the weather forecast says snow is not likely, and we get a pile. Sometimes your favorite team is heavily favored to win the big game, and they lose, or no one gives them a chance, and they pull off a big upset victory.
No matter how good your case, a trial is always a roll of the dice. If you can get most of what you want without a trial that is usually your best way to go. Playing the odds is fun in sports, but, when your future, or your kids are on the line you do not want to gamble if you do not have to.