Plaintiff-Side Representation in Medical Malpractice Litigation: How Much Value Do Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Add?
33 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2015 Last revised: 16 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 15, 2015
In an earlier paper, we quantified the market share, case mix, success rate, and amount recovered by the 1,317 law firms and lawyers that handled every medical malpractice case resolved in Illinois during 2000-2010. We stratify these 1,317 law firms and lawyers into four discrete “firm-levels” based on the total amount recovered, and use trimming and inverse propensity weighting to evaluate the effect of having a lawyer and of the firm-level of that lawyer on case outcomes. After controlling for observable covariates, we show that having a lawyer results in large and economically significant differences in both the probability of prevailing, and expected recovery. Lawyers from higher firm-levels have modestly higher success rates and substantially higher expected recoveries. However, we do not observe similar performance differentials when we compare the most elite plaintiffs’ lawyers with firms that are just below them on the “recovery spectrum.” Our findings indicate that there are substantial benefits to having a lawyer – and from having a lawyer from a higher firm-level -- but there are diminishing marginal returns at the top of the market. We use these findings to place some boundaries on the “value-added” by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation