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Social interactions and the content of legal opinions

London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Management
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  • K Law (General)
  • Economics
  • Law


We explore whether interactions between judges affect the citation content of legal opinions. Motivated by the economic and sociological literature on networks, we consider two possible mechanisms: knowledge diffusion - a judge is more likely to be aware of, and hence cite, a prior opinion if he has interacted with its author, and socialization - a judge is more likely to cite a prior opinion positively if he has interacted with its author. We find that English appellate judges randomly assigned to work with the author of a given opinion are more (less) likely to make a discretionary citation of that opinion that is positive (neutral) than judges without an interaction, providing support for the socialization mechanism.

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