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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1428566
 
 

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Attorney Expertise, Litigant Success, and Judicial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals


Susan Haire


University of Georgia

Roger E. Hartley


Western Carolina University

Stefanie A. Lindquist


University of Texas at Austin - School of Law

July 1, 2009

Law & Society Review, Vol. 33, pp. 667-686, 1999

Abstract:     
In the U.S. legal system, litigants frequently retain counsel to represent their interest in civil cases, particularly when the stakes are high. Scholarly work and anecdotal evidence suggest that variation in the quality of advocacy has the potential to affect litigant success. We examine the relationship between attorney characteristics, case outcomes, and judicial voting in products liability decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Our analysis found some differences in the levels of experience and specialization of counsel, representing defendants and plaintiffs and that counsel expertise was, at times, related to litigant success. In a multivariate model of decision making, judge were less likely to support the position of plaintiffs when they were represented by counsel appearing for the first time before the circuit. When defendants were represented by attorneys who did not specialize in relevant areas of the law, judges were more likely to decide in favor of the plaintiff. These finding suggest that those attorneys who do not meet a minimum threshold of expertise will be less likely to find judicial support for their client than other attorneys. Such attorneys may be less successful as a result of their lack of familiarity with the law and appellate process or because they make poor choices regarding the likelihood of success on appeal.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: litigant expertise, litigant success, attorney, attorney expertise, attorney expertise, specialization, products liability, civil cases, U.S. Courts of Appeals, Circuit Courts of Appeals, experience

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Date posted: July 2, 2009 ; Last revised: November 22, 2011

Suggested Citation

Haire, Susan and Hartley, Roger E. and Lindquist, Stefanie A., Attorney Expertise, Litigant Success, and Judicial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals (July 1, 2009). Law & Society Review, Vol. 33, pp. 667-686, 1999. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1428566

Contact Information

Susan Haire (Contact Author)
University of Georgia ( email )
Department of Economics
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States
Roger E. Hartley
Western Carolina University ( email )
Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States
520-203-2902 (Phone)
Stefanie A. Lindquist
University of Texas at Austin - School of Law ( email )
727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-1319 (Phone)
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