NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Legal Advice about Acts Already Commited

Louis Kaplow, Steven Shavell

NBER Working Paper No. 3005 (Also Reprint No. r1548)
Issued in March 1991
NBER Program(s):   LE

Much legal advice is provided after individuals have committed acts -- when they come before a tribunal -- rather than at the time they decide how to act. This paper considers the effects and social desirability of such legal advice. It is emphasized that 1egl advice tends to reduce expected sanctions, which may encourage acts subject to sanctions. There is, however, no a priort basis for believing that this is socially undesirable, because, among other reasons, it may be possible to raise the level of sanctions to offset their dilution due to legal advice. In addition, legal advice has no general tendency to improve the effectiveness of the legal system through its influence on the information presented to tribunals.

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Published: International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 149-159, (1990).

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