Warning: Law Students Are Careful

funny warning labelLaw students learn to avoid risk, in part because of what is known as the “availability heuristic”–a mental shortcut people use to unreliably evaluate the probability of risks based on whether they can remember the event ever happening before.

Law students and lawyers tend to over-estimate risk because they can always imagine a situation (an availability) in every context of life where things went wrong. In all the cases they read, things went wrong, which is why they became cases. Their constant exposure to Murphy’s Law causes them to become very adept at (even obsessive about) spotting and avoiding risks in their own lives.

Here a careful student of mine studying in the law library with her laptop took the extra-prudent precaution of posting a warning sign near to the cord and plug to avoid a tripping injury risk.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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