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Optimistic lawyers, but out of touch with reality

Research has shown that optimists often believe they have much more control over events than they actually do. “They tend to underestimate (often by orders of magnitude) the costs and effort needed to accomplish longer-term objectives.” (Wilson Quarterly, Vol. 30, Winter 2006 at 21, citing Daniel Kahneman and Martin Seligman)

Optimistic corporate lawyers – can they exist? – need to discipline themselves to pour a hefty bucket of reality water on their flaming visions. If you budget tightly, if you devise an aggressive project plan, if you tell clients something will be done quickly, if you predict victory in a lawsuit, if you favorably assess the outcome of a negotiation – hoist the bucket (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005 on risk-averse lawyers.).

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