February 2019

Litigation and Mental Models

by Lee Gesmer on February 6, 2019

Litigation and Mental Models

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions. Mark Twain

I’ve been reading about mental models. Everyone has these, whether they are aware of them or not. Doctors, engineers, sports coaches, electricians, architects, they all have them. Gary Kasparov has them for chess. Warren Buffett for investing. Nancy Pelosi for legislative politics. Bill Belichick for football (Tony Romo too). And, whether they are aware of it or not, lawyers have them.

Here’s Charlie Munger’s description of mental models:

you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered.

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