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Litigation

What Lawyers Can Learn from Poker Players

Litigation is often compared to chess. The image is evoked of a lawyer strategically developing evidence and making arguments the same way a chess player moves and sacrifices pieces on a chessboard, to defeat an opponent. But ask any trial lawyer, and he or she will tell you that litigation is nothing like chess. The better analogy and, more importantly, the better place to turn for useful practice pointers, is poker. Here's why.

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Litigation is often compared to chess. The image is evoked of a lawyer strategically developing evidence and making arguments the same way a chess player moves and sacrifices pieces on a chessboard, to defeat an opponent. But ask any trial lawyer, and he or she will tell you that litigation is nothing like chess. In chess, both players have the same pieces and start from the same squares on the board — in effect, their cases are equally strong. Moreover, in chess, both players have an unobstructed view of the board; in other words, they both possess full knowledge of the facts. In litigation, neither of these fundamental premises is true.

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