Rethinking Personal Jurisdiction

54 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2014 Last revised: 5 Jan 2016

See all articles by Daniel M. Klerman

Daniel M. Klerman

University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Date Written: January 4, 2016


This article sets out a pragmatic justification for the main features of current personal jurisdiction doctrine. According to that justification, personal jurisdiction rules minimize litigation costs and bias. This approach to personal jurisdiction helps resolve difficult and open jurisdictional issues, such as the scope of general jurisdiction and the validity of jurisdiction based on the stream-of-commerce theory. This article then explores the empirical assumptions underlying this pragmatic explanation for current doctrine and shows how doctrine should change if those empirical assumptions were incorrect. For example, the Supreme Court’s “purposeful availment” requirement is justified only if the danger of bias against out-of-state litigants is high. If that danger were low, it would make sense to allow plaintiffs to sue in their home states, even if defendants had not purposefully availed themselves of the benefits of that state.

Keywords: jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, bias, purposeful availment, litigation costs

Suggested Citation

Klerman, Daniel M., Rethinking Personal Jurisdiction (January 4, 2016). 6 J. of Legal Analysis 245 (2014); USC CLASS Research Paper No. 14-14; USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 14-15. Available at SSRN: or

Daniel M. Klerman (Contact Author)

University of Southern California Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-7973 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)


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