Settlement Schemas: How Laypeople Understand Civil Settlement

60 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2023 Last revised: 26 Oct 2023

See all articles by Jennifer K. Robbennolt

Jennifer K. Robbennolt

University of Illinois College of Law

Jessica Bregant

University of Houston Law Center

Verity Winship

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: April 21, 2023

Abstract

What does the public think it means to “settle” a civil case? Most legal disputes in the United States end in an agreement to settle, but little is known about what laypeople think about settlement. To fill this gap, we took a direct approach: we asked a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults – more than one thousand of them – basic questions about settlement. We found widespread understanding about the essential nature and frequency of settlement, but persistent, though not universal, misconceptions about the details, including the role of a jury and settlement scope. Because settlement is such a pervasive part of the U.S. legal system, the system’s legitimacy turns in part on how the public understands and views civil settlement. The survey reported here provides a foundational study of the understandings and framework – the schemas – that the public bring to settlement.

Keywords: settlement, litigation, apology, empirical legal studies, negotiation, dispute resolution, survey, legitimacy, public perceptions

JEL Classification: K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Robbennolt, Jennifer K. and Bregant, Jessica and Winship, Verity, Settlement Schemas: How Laypeople Understand Civil Settlement (April 21, 2023). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming, University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 23-08, U of Houston Law Center No. 2023-A-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4425805 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4425805

Jennifer K. Robbennolt (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-6623 (Phone)

Jessica Bregant

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

Verity Winship

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-244-8161 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/verity-winship/

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