The optimal extent of discovery

Frances Z.Xu Lee, Dan Bernhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We characterize how the process of publicly gathering information via discovery affects strategic interactions between litigants. It allows privately informed defendants to signal through the timing of settlement offers, with weaker ones attempting to settle prediscovery. Discovery reduces the probability of trial. Properly designed limited discovery reduces expected litigation costs. Stronger defendants gain more (lose less) from a given amount of discovery. We find that the court should grant more discovery when defendants are believed to be stronger and should grant discovery on more efficient sources of information, leaving less efficient ones to trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-607
Number of pages35
JournalRAND Journal of Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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