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The Rule of Law and the Litigation Process: The Paradox of Losing by Winning

Catherine Albiston
Law & Society Review
Vol. 33, No. 4, Do the "Haves" Still Come Out Ahead? (1999), pp. 869-910
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3115153
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3115153
Page Count: 42
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The Rule of Law and the Litigation Process: The Paradox of Losing by Winning
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Abstract

This article expands upon the idea that repeat players influence the development of law by settling cases they are likely to lose and litigating cases they are likely to win. Through empirical analysis of judicial opinions interpreting the Family and Medical Leave Act, it shows how the rule-making opportunities in the litigation process affect the development of law and the judicial determination of statutory rights. In addition, the article explains how early judicial opinions might influence later judicial interpretations of the law. Although individuals may successfully mobilize the law to gain benefits in their disputes, that success often removes their experiences from the judicial determination of rights, limiting law's capacity to produce social change. This paradox of losing by winning separates the dispute resolution function of courts from their law-making function and raises questions about the legitimacy of law.

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