Risk & Rigor: A Lawyer's Guide to Decision Trees for Assessing Cases and Advising Clients


Risk & Rigor: A Lawyer's Guide to Decision Trees for Assessing Cases and Advising Clients


Download Front Matter (303 KB)

Download Background and Acknowledgements (207 KB)

Download Author’s Note Regarding Complex Tree Images, Video Links, and Website (488 KB)

Download Introduction: Forswearing Ambiguity of Purpose or Method (211 KB)

Download Chapter 1 - Deciding with Clarity Before Climbing Trees (239 KB)

Download Chapter 2 - Logical Premises—Fiction, Meaning, Method, and Practice (466 KB)

Download Chapter 3 - How To's (2.9 MB)

Download Chapter 4 - Rigor Requires Refinement (3.2 MB)

Download Chapter 5 - Decision Rules When Deciding How Much to Build Out (4.0 MB)

Download Chapter 6 - Structure Through to the Net (Outcomes) (1.4 MB)

Download Chapter 7 - Reality of Quantification for Intangibles (2.5 MB)

Download Chapter 8 - Even More Intangible Non-Monetary and Still Important Consequences (328 KB)

Download Chapter 9 - Psychology’s Important Interlude Pernicious Impact on Subjective Probability and Payoff Predictions (743 KB)

Download Chapter 10 - Affirming and Working With Subjective Probabilities (1.2 MB)

Download Chapter 11 - Best Practices for Probabilities and Predictions (872 KB)

Download Chapter 12 - END GAME: Outcomes—Estimating Numbers at the FAR RIGHT (1.3 MB)

Download Chapter 13 - Centered Communication With Pictures, Grace, and Rigor (258 KB)

Download Links to Video Inserts in Chapter Three on “How To’s” (186 KB)

Download About Origins, Sources, and References (266 KB)


Risk and Rigor offers practical guidance to lawyers, mediators, and clients on using decision trees to more rigorously think through possible legal paths, risks, and consequences for more strategic litigation choices and settlement valuation.

For those entirely unfamiliar with decision tree analysis, or litigation risk analysis, the first few chapters provide grounding in its fundamental concepts and logic. They guide the reader through a carefully sequenced set of case examples and offer links to videos that demonstrate how to hand draw and calculate simple decision trees. Risk and Rigor then goes far beyond the basics, discussing how to think about structuring decision trees for complex cases—when simplification distorts reality and when too much complexity makes the tree less comprehensible and less meaningful. Drawing upon the fields of psychology and communication as well as expert elicitation and probability studies, it provides advice for lawyers, mediators, and clients on arriving at thoughtful and robust estimates of probabilities, damages exposure, and other tangible and intangible costs in the litigation context. There are abundant not-so-hypothetical case examples and their decision trees, as well as tips on best practices and mistakes to avoid when structuring a tree and estimating its numbers and percentages.

Recognizing that rigor alone is far from enough, the book explains how to collaboratively build and draw insights from decision trees in ways that work with emotion, psychology, and communication for client counseling, negotiation, and mediation. Offering examples of how to use the language and visual impact of decision trees in dialog with clients and opposing counsel, Risk and Rigor is an invaluable resource for lawyers and mediators seeking to facilitate reasoned settlement valuation while maintaining strong client relationships. Shortly after the book’s publication, readers will be able to find RiskandRigor.com, a website with additional resources related to risk assessment, cost estimation, case valuation, and decision trees for legal practice.



Publication Date



DRI Press


St Paul


Settlement, Mediation, Trial, Probability estimate, Dispute resolution, Negotiation


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Litigation

Risk & Rigor: A Lawyer's Guide to Decision Trees for Assessing Cases and Advising Clients