Lawyers on Trial: Juror Hostility to Defendants in Legal Malpractice Trials

30 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2015 Last revised: 9 Apr 2015

See all articles by Herbert M. Kritzer

Herbert M. Kritzer

University of Minnesota Law School

Neil Vidmar

Duke University - School of Law

Date Written: March 16, 2015


In contrast to medical malpractice, legal malpractice is a phenomenon that has attracted little attention from empirically-oriented scholars. This paper is part of a larger study of legal malpractice claiming and litigation. Given the evidence on the frequency of legal malpractice claims, there are surprisingly few legal malpractice cases that result in jury verdicts. There are many possible explanations for this, one of which reflects the perception that lawyers are held in such low esteem by potential jurors that they risk harsh treatment by jurors when they are defendants in legal malpractice trials. Because we could find no empirical evidence that that either supported or rejected the reality of this perception, we designed a simple jury simulation experiment to test this as an hypothesis. Using three different case scenarios, each in two forms (one set within a legal malpractice framework and one outside legal malpractice), we found support for the hypothesis in only one of the three scenarios and even there the effects were at best modest. These results held up controlling for other possible factors that might influence juror responses to the case scenarios.

Keywords: Legal profession, legal malpractice, juries

Suggested Citation

Kritzer, Herbert M. and Vidmar, Neil, Lawyers on Trial: Juror Hostility to Defendants in Legal Malpractice Trials (March 16, 2015). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2015-15, Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-06, Available at SSRN: or

Herbert M. Kritzer (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Neil Vidmar

Duke University - School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7090 (Phone)
919-613-7231 (Fax)

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