In an interesting recent study entitled “Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions,” the conclusion is, as advertised, that “crowdsourcing outperforms both the commonly accepted ‘always guess reverse’ model and the best-studied algorithmic models.” Using a dataset and analysis that represents one of the largest explorations of recurring human prediction to date, the accuracy of prediction for this real-world context was 80.8%, the highest-known performance level of any method studied. What this means is that group guesses outperform any other method of predicting Supreme Court decisions.

What makes this finding particularly interesting is that Randy Kiser in his book Beyond Right and Wrong: The Power of Effective Decision Making For Attorneys and Clients uses his data to demonstrate that lawyers as a group, even well-seasoned litigation lawyers, are not particularly good at guessing trial outcomes, impairing their abilities to evaluate settlement offers.

One possible resolution of that apparent inconsistency is the fact that lawyers on average have lower emotional intelligence than the general population. Emotional intelligence has been described in other studies as the “emotional oracle effect” of successful predictions--including predictions of weather, Presidential nominations, movie box-office results, American Idol winners, stock market performance, awards, college football games, and other competitions.

Being able to identify and trust one’s emotional responses that have been developed over a life-time can provide the performance edge that can help lawyers assess and predict cases, jury responses and judicial decisions.