THE IMPACT OF ATTORNEYS ON JUDICIAL DECISIONS: EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FROM CIVIL CASES

Caio Castelliano de Vasconcelos, Eduardo Watanabe de Oliveira, Waldir Leôncio Netto
2018 International Journal for Court Administration  
This article analyses the impact of attorneys on the outcome of judicial decisions in civil cases. We currently have little quantitative information about the effect of attorneys on the outcome of civil cases due to (i) the nonrandom pairing of attorneys and cases and (ii) the difficulty in accurately defining what a favorable decision in a civil case is. The Office of the Solicitor General of the Union in Brazil presents a unique research opportunity, since it assigns cases among its attorneys
more » ... among its attorneys on a random basis and has standardized rules to record outcomes of civil cases. We analyzed the work performed by 386 Federal Attorneys and their impact on 30,821 judicial decisions. Significant win-rate differences among attorneys were detected in half of the 70 teams surveyed. The fact that attorneys achieve different outcomes, despite working in the same type of cases, indicates how judicial decisions can be affected by the work of an attorney in the civil area. No statistical correlation between attorney experience and outcome of civil cases was detected. The objective of this work is to analyze the impact of attorneys on civil cases outcomes. In this sense, the Office of the Solicitor General of the Union -SGU (Procuradoria-Geral da União -PGU) in Brazil offers a unique research opportunity, which can be characterized as a natural experiment, since cases are assigned to Federal Attorneys in a naturally random basis, i.e., without the need for an artificially-created random assignment by part of the investigators . We investigate if attorneys that work on the same type of cases (randomly assigned) achieve different outcomes. As it will be demonstrated, in many cases judicial decisions varied depending on the attorney who worked on the civil case, which shows how judges can be sensitive to differences in the work done by those professionals. This article will proceed in the following order. Section 2 brings the theoretical framework of the issue. Section 3 describes the organization where the research was conducted, presents the data used and the statistical analysis applied. Section 4 reports its findings. Section 5 discusses the results. Section 6 concludes.
doi:10.18352/ijca.244 fatcat:6izsxjywevbirpttkstixcvqf4