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Lee Epstein
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Lee Epsteing Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor
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LAWYERS WITH MORE EXPERIENCE OBTAIN BETTER OUTCOMES

Michael J. Nelson, Penn State
Lee Epstein, Washington University in St. Louis

Work experience acquired through on-the-job-training has been shown to lead to greater success in many occupations, but evidence of a causal connection between experience and success is sparse for appellate lawyers. Do experienced attorneys obtain better outcomes for their clients? Adopting a strategy for causal inference that could be applied to almost any peak court, we assess how similarly-situated novice and experienced attorneys fare against a comparable—and high quality—opponent: the federal government. We find that, on average, the outcomes obtained by experienced attorneys are significantly better than the outcomes they would have obtained had they been novices. This result shores up the importance of attending to attorneys in models of judicial behavior.

Click here for the paper (.pdf)
Click here for the technical appendix (.pdf)
Click here for the dataset (to be posted soon)