There are many different ways that a lawyer needs to prepare to represent a client through the legal system. While a lot of this information is covered in education and early years in practice, a top attorney who is litigating knows that becoming aware of the judge and how he or she tends to handle things in the court is a critical factor in being prepared.
In the past, lawyers had limited resources to be able to find out about California judges. There was always information from other attorneys, but that information was and still is largely case specific. How a judge rules on one issue on one day in one case is not indicative of the pattern or the trend for these types of rulings by the judge.
However, this information can still be valuable, particularly if the source of the information is an attorney who appears regularly in front of the specific California judges hearing your cases.
Internet searches on California judges provide both broad information and some statistical information, but it is largely in raw data form. The information has to be worked to make it relevant to understanding patterns and trends, which can be a time-consuming task.
In most situations, the most dramatic and sensational cases tend to take center stage when searching for any judge in any court in California. These cases are not the norm, they are the exception to the norm and can provide a skewed look at the judge’s decision-making process.
A very new trend in tools for lawyers is the use of judicial analytics. This is the meta data or Big Data approach where information from a wide number of sources is captured, analyzed and synthesized into report form.
This information allows an attorney to see trends, tendencies, and patterns for the judge, as well as to find out information about the judge’s workload, case law and reasoning and even information from other attorneys.