By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
Perceptions can be tricky. Take the picture above for example: If you'll do something right now, I promise that you'll be amazed. Stand up from in front of your monitor and step back about 15 feet from the computer, and you'll see Albert Einstein turn into Marilyn Monroe. Seriously! The image doesn't change of course, but with the right distance your perception of it will suddenly shift.
I found perception playing a similarly important role in my work the other day. A client had asked me for an opinion on choice of venue. He had the option of three different counties: two were suburban with a high Republican population, and the third was urban with more registered Democrats. A plaintiff in this case, the client asked if it was true that the more urban venue would be better for him. My answer was, based on our data and experience, it is true. But then my perspective suddenly shifted, and I realized that in a larger sense, it doesn't really matter if it is true because it is generally perceived to be true. That might sound cynical, but what I mean is if this case is like the close to 98 percent of cases that settle before trial, then the perceived characteristics of the venue will matter far more than the actual characteristics of the venue. Siting the case in the perceived pro-plaintiff venue will serve as better leverage for a good settlement. Taking a look at the notion that when it comes to bad venues and cases that settle, perception is reality, this post offers some recommendations for looking at your venue with new eyes.