Statistics Cheat Sheets

In my spare time lately, I have been studying. My partner Patric deserves special recognition for handling the bulk of homestead related activities as I park myself in front of the computer each evening to delve into the specifics of Z scores, standard deviation, degrees of freedom, probability and regression analysis.

It is interesting and also quite challenging to be facing an exam with the practice question: “43.5% of students pass this certification exam. The department head is sending 12 people from your company to take the exam and says that if you all pass you will each receive a bonus trip to Hawaii. What is the probability that you will be travelling?”

Low, very, very low.

A working knowledge of statistics is a very useful item for your legal business toolbox. For example: Business question: Do we need another printer? A predictable answer based on applied statistics might look something like: What is the mean time to failure for the models of printers in this area, the probability of down time for all the printers in this corner of the office, the relationship between ‘missing’ print jobs and the number of people printing to one device.

If like me, you haven’t used applied statistics lately and you need a little help there are resources available. Your local public library probably has Statistics for Dummies or another readable primer. The site offers some cheat sheets so that you can remind yourself of basic rules and formulas for business statistics, common statistics, and probability. I am usually just offended by the title of this series of books, but these tools are very handy.

We have mentioned the Khan Academy previously on Slaw. Khan Academy offers tons of learning opportunities in math and sciences in their library of content.


  1. And I say that as someone to came to the law from a hard sciences background. I get immensely frustrated by innumeracy in our profession. I get immensely frustrated with colleagues who seem weirdly proud of their inability to do simple math or to even understand how things like statistics or business valuation (NPV) even work at the most basic level.

  2. If a lawyer had other university degrees and coursework on applied statistical analysis, this is where basic understanding could be gained for business planning purposes?

    Unless curriculum has changed since I’ve graduated, a master’s level university library/information science degree requires mandatory course on applied statistical analysis.

    I have yet to report regression to any business decision-maker in my jobs. But right off the bat, from day 1 after university, in every single job I’ve had in information management and fast forward a few decades, I’ve had to determine service performance measures, report them and more importantly, do something meaningful with statistics that translate into action.

    Do lawyers have similar measures …other than revenue? On client satisfaction?

    In several jobs initially, there was no expectation that I provide metrics, but I did anyway with a defined purpose and outcome. It is ingrained in information management professionals to a point, that we expect other disciplines to have base metrics. But that is not always true.

  3. Mike and Jean, thanks to both of you for your comments.
    It is a (positive) sign of changing times that metrics, data, and other language that we think of as statistics are being heard more often in coversations inside legal.

    If either of you are interested in tutoring….