Natural experiments are all that are left to researchers of law department management

To opine credibly and scientifically on the degree to which law department practices bring benefits, such as assessment of cases within 60 days of the complaint being filed, someone would have to follow the disciplines of scientific experiment. Take 100 random law departments and require them to follow the ECA drill for the next year of lawsuits filed against them, and also take another 100 random law departments and prohibit them from doing the same. Several years later, gather data on all the companies’ external legal expenditures and venture some plausible conclusions about whether the practice has efficacy. Sadly, we can’t run experiments.

We are left with so-called natural experiments, in which two groups followed different paths and we try to draw conclusions afterwards from the destinations they reached. For example an article examines a natural experiment in Florida which clarifies the effects of the British ruled that the loser pays all the legal costs. Another article presents data on a natural experiment in the United States on compulsory expert arbitration. Both are cited in “Rising Legal Costs,” by Robert E. Marks and Russell Fox, Justice in the Twenty-First Century (Cavendish 1999) at 2.

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