In the practice of law, the final question often boils down to a matter of money. Unfortunately, sometimes the issue is not who is right or who is wrong, but how much it's going to cost to find out. In these instances, any help you can get trying to determine the cost of litigation, as opposed to the cost of settlement, is useful.
We are beginning to see the introduction of some very useful litigation risk-analysis software applications. These applications are designed to assist attorneys with the process of determining the financial outcome of the process of particular pieces of litigation.
Advocate Software, Inc.'s Personal Computer-Economist is designed to help attorneys estimate the cost or potential liability of specific types of litigation. Litigation Risk Analysis, Inc.'s DATA is actually a more generic decision-tree application that can be used with great success in litigation but that also has wider applications. While not necessarily cheap, the value of these two applications derives from what they can tell you about your litigation rather than from what they cost.
Advocate Software, Inc.'s
If you've ever wondered what the true potential liability is for your personal injury, medical malpractice, or product-liability cases, wonder no more. Advocate Software's Personal Computer-Economist will tell you, once you figure out how to use it and enter your client's or opponent's information.
The software is the product of Melvin C. Fredlund, Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington. Fredlund, a forensic economist, has decanted a viable statistical process for determining damages into a relatively easy-to-use Windows-based software application.
In a nutshell, the Personal Computer-Economist prompts you to complete standard templates of information regarding your case. Once the information is entered, the application uses it to calculate a "Damages Summary" screen. The damages summary information should give you an excellent synopsis of your potential liability or award.
The Windows application currently has four modules: personal injury, wrongful termination, wrongful death, and structured settlement. The demonstration application we reviewed came with the Wrongful Termination module enabled. Figure 1 should give readers an idea of both the look and feel of the application and what to expect for a damages summary once your case information has been entered.
The figure is also useful for illustrating several aspects of the Personal Computer-Economist, including the full graphical interface and the different kinds of case information that must be entered before the damages summary is calculated.
For starters there is a full line of pulldown menus and toolbar icons that facilitate the navigation and use of the product. If you want to enter new case Information you can click on File/New using the pulldown menus or the Open folder icon on the far left of the toolbar.
Once you've begun to create a new case file, the application will prompt you to enter your plaintiff's name, case file, and other information. Using the example of wrongful termination, the other basic information to be entered includes the plaintiff's date of birth, date of dismissal, sex, race, date of settlement or trial, worklife expectancy, and age at retirement.
The tabs at the bottom of the screen identify the three additional types of case information that need to be entered: past lost earnings, future lost earnings, and other costs.
Part of the beauty of this application is the useful underlying database of information on which it is based. For example, in completing the future lost earnings template, the user must fill in information regarding what the plaintiff would have earned (had he or she not been terminated) and what the plaintiff will actually earn. The "would have earned" information is derived in part from the information entered into the past lost earnings template. …