I’ve been a student of chess since age six — forty six years, and I am still learning the game. I expect I will still learn until the day God takes me home (and afterwards if there is chess in heaven).
In many ways law is like chess, especially because, as in chess, no two games are alike, so in law no two cases are alike. Each move in chess, and sometimes each move in law, changes the game, sometimes a bit, sometimes radically. My love for both chess and law lies in the kaleidoscopic possibilities inherent in both.
Therefore, when clients try to compare their cases to others I must resist the urge to groan. I take a deep breath and gird my loins for an explanation, not because my clients are dim, but because I sometimes find it difficult to adequately explain to them that no two cases are alike.
Although most cases share basic qualities (as in chess both sides can play a knight) the specifics of each case differ. For instance, a child who suffers a broken leg may get less than a forty year old who needs his leg to work.
Although both the child and the adult suffered the same injury, and we may feel that the child should get more than the adult because we naturally feel more for the child, the adult will recover more money because the adult works and has missed work because of his injury.
Lesson: Don’t compare your case to someone else’s before you know all the facts. In chess terms, don’t assume someone has the advantage before knowing the entire board.