Does Repeat Play Elicit Cooperation? Evidence from Federal Civil Litigation
Posted: 13 May 2002
While some litigants frequently file cases, very few opposing pairs of litigants appear together frequently. Thus, there is little opportunity for litigants to develop trust or reputation. Lawyers, on the other hand, face each other frequently and participate in a community of lawyers that shares information. Lawyers may therefore foster efficient dispute resolution by turning one-shot client interaction into a repeated game. This suggests the following empirical question: Are disputes resolved more quickly by agents (lawyers) who interact frequently, either as individuals or through their firms? We have assembled a dataset on roughly 2000 federal civil cases filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in 1994, supplementing the ICPSR data with attorney, and firm, identity. After accounting for individual attorney speed, we find that cases involving attorney pairs who interact repeatedly in our data are resolved more quickly and are more likely to settle.
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