Maths for Smart Lawyers

Bruce Greig
April 5, 2021

Two-hour CPD session for smart lawyers to brush up their maths and spreadsheet skills

I'm quite good with numbers, and I am good at explaining things.

So I run an occasional two-hour course to help lawyers improve their maths and spreadsheet skills:

Book here through MBL Seminars

UPDATE January 2022:

This course is now available as a self-study course, if you prefer that to sitting through a 1.5hr lecture. The self-study version covers the same material as the MBL Seminar version as a series of short videos interspersed with exercises to enable you to check your understanding. Self-study version of Maths for Smart Lawyers.

As a business owner I've had lots of dealings with lawyers. I have noticed that otherwise super-smart lawyers often have gaps in their maths understanding. They have not studied maths since they were 16 and never experienced the geeky maths-is-good culture which now pervades other professions like finance and medicine. But lawyers are smart - these gaps are easily fixed, which is what this short course does.

Here is what we cover in detail:

Spreadsheet basics

  • How to lay out your spreadsheet so you can work on it faster
  • How to build in simple checks to detect your own common mistakes
  • Cleaning data that you have copy-pasted from somewhere else so it is usable
  • A quick look at lookup tables, pivot tables, other bits

Working with probabilities

  • Why adding probabilities together sometimes doesn’t work
  • Review of the ‘prosecutor’s fallacy’
  • Understanding Bayesian reasoning (e.g. why 1% false positive rate can mean 90% of positives are false)
  • Statistical significance

Overview of some financial stuff

  • P&L vs Balance Sheet vs Cashflow
  • Discounted cashflow / discount rate
  • Equations with a big sigma symbol in them
  • Calculating percentage change correctly
  • CAGR

Refresher on maths questions you might otherwise be afraid to ask, like:

  • Why increasing 100 by 10% gets you 110, but decreasing that by 10% again gets you 99
  • Why dividing by 0.5 is the same as multiplying by 2
  • Why two years of 10% growth is not the same as 20% growth

Interesting titbits which you’ll probably not need, but will make you feel smart if you can explain them:

  • Benford’s law (used to detect fraudulent figures)
  • Monty Hall problem
  • +whatever else we have time for

Here are some testimonials from previous attendees:

"I thought I'd engage in some home-schooling for myself and I was not disappointed. Maths, probabilities and spreadsheets should form part of lawyers' training" - Hugh Elder, Former President of the London Solicitors Litigation Association

"Never liked double maths at school but two hours with Bruce flashed by. Entertaining, informative, useful." - Stephen Walker, Solicitor & Mediator

"Thanks Bruce for a great session. I genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to refresh my rusty maths and learn some new points that I can see will help me analyse arguments and present information in a snappy way." - Philippa Brown, CEDR mediator

"Many thanks Bruce for a most useful and enjoyable session." John Quigley, Data Protection Lawyer

Book the live-at-your-desk version here through MBL Seminars


Purchase access to the self-study version of Maths for Smart Lawyers.