The Rational Think Tank: A Platform for the Improvement of our Legal System?

Over the last decades, slowly but surely, the fields of economics and law have left their static and, ironically, ‘rationalistic’ roots behind (think: ‘homo oeconomicus’) and started to embrace the full complexity of human interactions by forming their respective behavioral schools.

Impressive strides have been made in the field of economics and finance toward a more realistic view onto the world and very promising first steps have been undertaken in our very own field: The Legal Profession. More and more individuals and organizations realize the tremendous potential that the study of behavioural laws has for the incremental improvement of our legal system, yet many an enthusiast does not know how to channel his energy and interest.

When we founded The Rational Think Tank we therefore envisioned a platform structure to aggregate likeminded individuals and organizations. The key players of the legal world who want to make a difference for the better are invited to piggyback off our organizational structure to get involved without the necessary hassle of developing their own structures. This way, our partners’ initiatives will be catalysed by our organization and receive the attention they deserve at minimum expense.

Our mission includes research. It includes large symposia and publications. It includes likeminded people coming together, synthesizing a multiplicity of views under one umbrella, giving behavioral approaches to law a proper forum.

All those factors combined, we hope, will result in long-term improvement of our laws and minds, consisting of three steps on the way to achieving our vision:

  1. Awareness. Judges realize their proneness to cognitive dynamics and distortions, attorneys are keen to learn more once they recognize it puts them in a stronger position. The Legal Profession as a whole embraces that humans are prone to heuristics – and fallible – but also able to learn and improve in a multitude of ways.
  1. Action. Lawyers, judges, legislators, states’ attorneys, legal scholars and the legal professional community at large channel their love for the law to rally behind the idea of improving our legal systems and further the quality of legal processes. 
  1. Adjustment. A change of minds results in a change of direction. The legal profession recognizes that there is room for improvement. Judges are keen to learn more about their own cognitive processes as they strive to continuously improve the clarity of their judgements. Lawyers see the cognitive sciences as one of the foundations for their work rather than a mysterious black box or a tool for manipulation.

All of this ultimately aims at incremental but steady improvement of legal processes in order to secure equity in front of the law. It is a classic win-win-win indeed, is it not?