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The Law and Economics of Lawyers: Evidence from the Revolving Door in China’s Judicial System

This paper studies the roles of lawyers in shaping judicial and economic outcomes, exploiting the unique setting of "revolving-door" lawyers in China’s judicial system. By compiling the first comprehensive dataset covering the universes of judges, lawyers, law firms, litigants, and lawsuits in China from 2014 to 2022, the authors identify over 14,000 judges who left their positions and joined private law firms as lawyers, which accounts for 6.5% of all judges (2.6% of all lawyers) nationwide. The authors document three main empirical patterns. First, in both criminal and commercial lawsuits, these revolving-door lawyers enjoy significant advantages in securing favorable court decisions for their clients. Second, leveraging intra-lawyer variation in performances at home vs. away courts, the authors show that the premium of revolving door lawyers comes from both "know who" and "know how". Third, revolving-door lawyers present an efficiency-equity trade-off for society; on the one hand, they provide sound evidence and quality judicial reasoning to help the judges make more informed decisions; on the other hand, they use connections and strategic arguments to help their (rich) clients enjoy an edge in judicial decisions.

22
Feb
2024
Thursday

Session Chair: Bohui ZHANG
Executive Dean, Presidential Chair Professor, School of Management and Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

10:00 am
The Law and Economics of Lawyers: Evidence from the Revolving Door in China’s Judicial System

Shaoda WANG, Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Co-authors:
John Zhuang LIU, Assistant Professor, Department of Law, University of Hong Kong
Wenwei PENG, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Economics, Harvard University
Daniel Yi XU,Professor of Economics, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University
10:25 am
Discussion
Discussant:
Jonah GELBACH, Herman F. Selvin Professor of Law, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley
10:50 am
Q&A
11:10 am


Updated 5 Feb 2024

Session Format

Each session lasts for 1 hour 10 minutes (25 minutes for the author, 25 minutes for the discussant and 20 minutes for participants' Q&A). Sessions will be recorded and posted on ABFER website, except in cases where speakers or discussants request us not to.

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