Question

The contingency-fee system, which allows lawyers and their clients to agree that the lawyer will be paid only in the event of success, does not increase the number of medical malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors. As attorneys must cover the costs for their time and research, they want to be assured that any medical malpractice case they accept on a contingency-fee basis has substantial merit. Consequently, attorneys turn away many people who come to see them, for lack of a good case.

The argument above is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it fails to

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

The Story

The contingency-fee system, which allows lawyers and their clients to agree that the lawyer will be paid only in the event of success, does not increase the number of medical malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors.

This statement talks about a system. What system? A fee system under which a lawyer gets paid only in the event of success (a successful outcome of a case – a result in favour of the client). The term ‘contingency-fee’ also helps us understand what the system is. The statement says implementing such a system does not lead to an increase in the number of malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors. The author makes a claim here. The author simply claims that the number of such medical lawsuits will not increase. The number could decrease, or remain constant. (The author has started the passage off with a claim. He’ll probably go on to provide some basis for making this claim.)

As attorneys must cover the costs for their time and research, they want to be assured that any medical malpractice case they accept on a contingency-fee basis has substantial merit.

(Indeed. The author does get into supporting the claim made above.) According to the author, the reason (why the fee system does not lead to an increase in the number of malpractice lawsuits brought  against doctors) is that lawyers want to accept only cases that have significant merit. Why so? Since attorneys must cover their costs. (This sentence itself can be broken up into two portions – the first supporting the other.)

Consequently, attorneys turn away many people who come to see them, for lack of a good case.

The word ‘consequently’ tells us that the author is about to present a consequence of something mentioned before. What is the consequence? Lawyers decline many cases that do not have significant merit. What is this a consequence of? The latter half of the second statement. 

Gist: The contingency-fee system does not lead to an increase in the number of malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors (conclusion).
How come?
Because lawyers reject cases they feel do not have merit. (support)
Why?
Well, the lawyers must cover their costs and thus want to accept only the cases they believe are winnable. (support)

The Gap

The passage gives us reasons for why lawyers might reject certain kinds of cases under a particular fee system. Without telling us anything about how lawyers and clients operate when not using this fee system, the author claims that the number of lawsuits ‘will not increase’. In order to conclude that a number will not increase beyond another number, we need to know more about the other number. How do relevant factors govern and influence that number?

This argument is equivalent to saying: John has not studied, therefore he will not score more in the test than he did last time.

We can see why John may not score as high as he could have this time. However, how can we compare his potential score this time with his performance in the past? Did he study last time? What if this test is (or the last one was) extremely easy? What if John paid very close attention in classes, and is a quick learner? We do not know anything about John’s performance last time, thus the conclusion that John will not perform better is flawed.

The Goal

We have discussed one gap that the argument fails to tackle. There could be other gaps as well.

The Evaluation

(A)Incorect. TThe lawyers find it in their best financial interest to not take cases under the contingency-fee system that they feel have a low chance of success. Not mentioning what criteria the lawyers use is not a flaw in the argument. 


Note: The answer choice does not indicate that the criteria lawyers use to decide winnability may be flawed. The answer choice simply states that the argument fails to ‘specify’ the criteria. Yes, the argument does not specify the criteria. That on its own does not indicate that the lawyers did not use any criteria or that the criteria was flawed.

(B) Correct. Ok, so this option talks about the likelihood of clients bringing cases to lawyers under some different fee system. What if the chances of a client bringing a case to a lawyer go down if the client knows he’ll need to incur a large fee even if he does not win the case? This might mean that overall fewer lawsuits are brought against doctors. This is in line with what we discussed in the ‘gap’ section above. This option tells us that the argument fails to consider how the number of lawsuits brought might get impacted if the contingency-fee system is not used. Thus to conclude that the number of lawsuits brought against doctors ‘will not increase’ is flawed.

(C) Incorrect. There is no indication in the argument as to how the ‘magnitude’ of the potential eventual monetary gain impacts the decision of clients or lawyers to bring such lawsuits. Besides, if the monetary award were indeed less under the contingency-fee system, the argument would be strengthened. Thus, not considering this situation cannot be a flaw.

(D) Incorrect. The argument is specifically about the impact on the number of medical malpractice lawsuits brought against doctors. This option talks about the number of lawsuits ‘sought’ for ‘other reasons’. 

Let’s consider that this option talks about ‘sought for medical malpractice’.

We can logically assume that clients would have a higher incentive to bring a case to a lawyer if they need to pay ‘only’ if they win the case. Thus, probably, the number of lawsuits sought will increase overall under the contingency-fee system. However, given that the lawyers are selective under this system, more ‘sought’ does not mean more ‘brought’ against. Thus, the argument will hold as is even if we consider this situation. Thus, not considering this situation is not a flaw in the argument. 

(E) Incorrect. The cost of such insurance to the doctors would have no bearing on whether clients consult lawyers for medical malpractice cases, and whether lawyers take on such cases.

Additional Notes

‘does not increase’ is not the same as decreases. ‘Does not increase’ means that the number either decreases or remains the same.

‘John does not like broccoli’ is not the same as ‘John hates broccoli’. John could mean hate or be indifferent towards broccoli.

In Quant, ‘not negative’ does not necessarily mean the number is positive. It means that the number is either positive or 0.

This solution was created by Anish Passi and Chiranjeev Singh.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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