Cover: More Talk, Less Conflict

More Talk, Less Conflict

Evidence from Requiring Informal Discovery Conferences

Published in: American Law and Economics Review (2024). DOI: 10.1093/aler/ahad009

Posted on Feb 19, 2024

by Eric Helland, Minjae Yun

Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information under the supervision of the courts. Since managing discovery is costly, courts have implemented case management techniques to reduce motion practice in discovery. This study examines whether case management techniques can reduce the likelihood of a discovery dispute. We attempt to untangle the impact of specific judges from the use of a particular case management technique. We focus on the use of informal discovery conferences (IDCs) in which parties meet with the judge before filing a motion to compel. The problem with simply testing whether IDCs reduce the number of discovery motions is that the use of an IDC is likely endogenous. Our solution to this endogeneity is to use the random assignment of judges. Since some judges have a higher propensity to use IDCs and some courts have begun requiring them, we have two sources of policy variation. Using this estimation strategy, we find that IDCs reduce the number and presence of discovery motions.

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