Inferences from litigated cases

Daniel Klerman*, Yoon Ho Alex Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Priest and Klein argued in 1984 that, because of selection effects, the percentage of litigated cases won by plaintiffs will not vary with the legal standard. Many researchers thereafter concluded that one could not make valid inferences about the character of the law from the percentage of cases plaintiffs won, nor could one measure legal change by observing changes in that percentage. This article argues that, even taking selection effects into account, one may be able to make valid inferences from the percentage of plaintiff trial victories, because selection effects are partial. Therefore, although selection mutes changes in the plaintiff trial win rate, it does not make the win rate completely invariant to legal change. This article shows that inferences from litigated cases may be possible under the standard screening and signaling models of settlement, as well as under Priest and Klein’s original divergent-expectations model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-248
Number of pages40
JournalJournal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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