Does Repeat Play Elicit Cooperation? Evidence from Federal Civil Litigation

Posted: 13 May 2002

See all articles by Joel Waldfogel

Joel Waldfogel

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics

Jason Scott Johnston

University of Virginia - School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Waldfogel, Joel and Johnston, Jason Scott, Does Repeat Play Elicit Cooperation? Evidence from Federal Civil Litigation. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, Part 1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=301991

Joel Waldfogel (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Jason Scott Johnston

University of Virginia - School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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