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The Transformation of American Business Disputing: A Sketch of the Wisconsin Project



The Transformation of American Business Disputing: A Sketch of the Wisconsin Project



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Bibliographic Citation

Disputes Processing Research Program Working Papers, DPRP 10-6 (March 1991)


The Disputes Processing Research Program (DPRP) at the University of Wisconsin has recently embarked on a major study of changes in American legal practice. This study concentrates on the organization and delivery of legal services to business clients, and determinants of business demand for legal services. ( I It seeks to describe and explain what now appears to be a qualitative transformation in business disputing and use of law that has occurred over the last two decades. i I We believe the research will make a major scholarly contribution to our understanding of law, lawyers, and business governance in the united states, that it will clarify and enrich public discussion of many important policy issues concerning the role of law and lawyers in American society, and that it will be richly suggestive for assessment of comparable trends in other societies. The present document reports on current and projected research activity, and indicates how we see the different parts of the project fitting together. Our discussion is divided into five parts. In the first ("Background and Goals"), we situate the project intellectually, and indicate its general ambitions. In the second ("Changes in Business Governance and Use of Law"), we indicate some of the dimensions of the transformation that provides our central focus. In the third ("structure"), we outline both current and projected component studies of the project, indicating for each the specific direction of research, expected product, and progress in securing funding to support the work. In the fourth ("Who Cares?"), we argue for the intellectual and practical importance of the effort. A brief conclusion follows.