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110 – How Lawyers Think and Decide

by Jill


Lawyers can make significant decisions because they are trained to dissect complex situations into small bits and analyze them. They are trained to see both sides, which helps them.  They are great at breaking down complex ideas into ways people can understand them. They are taught to be analytical and that there are areas of grey that can be used to make decisions. They are great at looking at details and finding nuance and contradictions

Heuristics allow us to make quick decisions based on available knowledge. We can also apply some rules to this knowledge, like thinking the most expensive option would be the better-quality item. 

Bias is when we have shortcuts in decision-making, like thinking the newer item is better, which might be true but inhibiting a good decision. 

Risk Management might be one way they decide on a topic based on what is the least risky path and what the likelihoods and outcomes of the decision are. 

Threat Decisions are made by the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which makes the fight or flight decisions. The choice must be made quickly, and cortisol floods the system with adrenaline. This will help with fighting or running and healing. 

Value Decisions are based on our morals and values and need further clarification to ensure we act correctly. 

Habit Decisions are made in basal ganglia and have no value or threat. They are quick decisions based on basic information.


Think about how you make decisions. Do you make decisions based on your noodle selections differently than how you decide whether to buy a house or a car? Or when you’re making decisions about something moral, that is a more significant issue, what do you take into consideration? What processes do you go into when making decisions based on various complexities?



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