Civil Litigation in the United States, 1977-1979 (ICPSR 7994)

Principal Investigator(s): Kritzer, Herbert M.; Trubek, David M.; Felstiner, William L.F.; Grossman, Joel B.; Sarat, Austin


The Civil Litigation Research Project, based at the University of Wisconsin Law School, was organized in 1979 to develop a large database on dispute processing and litigation and to collect information on the costs of civil litigation. Data were gathered on topics such as negotiation proceedings, relationship between lawyer and client, and organizations' influence on the outcome of a dispute.

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS1:  Comprehensive Civil Litigation Reports for Mainframe Computers - Download All Files (79.674 MB)
DS2:  Comprehensive Civil Litigation Reports for Micro Computers - Download All Files (21.877 MB)
DS3:  Household Screener - Download All Files (25.441 MB)
DS4:  Organizational Screener - Download All Files (0.348 MB)
DS5:  Dispute survey open-ended questions - Download All Files (1.726 MB)

Study Description


Kritzer, Herbert M., David M. Trubek, William L.F. Felstiner, Joel B. Grossman, and Austin Sarat. Civil Litigation in the United States, 1977-1979. ICPSR07994-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1989.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Federal Justice Research Program (SES-8511622, and SES-8320129)
  • United States Department of Justice. Office for Improvements in the Administration of Justice
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
  • National Institute for Dispute Resolution
  • National Science Foundation

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arrests, attorneys, civil law, court cases, court system, criminal justice system, disposition (legal), legal systems, plea negotiations

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1977--1979

Date of Collection:   

  • 1979

Universe:    Disputes processed in the United States by courts and by alternative third party institutions and those processed bilaterally, i.e., without the involvement of a third party.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Documentation for this collection is machine-readable only. The unit of analysis is the "dispute" or "case." The data collection consists of five files, the first two of which are hierarchical and variably blocked. Part 5 is also variably blocked. In Part 1, there are 75,996 records generated from data gathered on approximately 2,631 disputes. The number of records per case varies depending upon the characteristics of the dispute. There are 40 possible record types that may describe a dispute. Examples include (1) "institutional" records, which record the basic events that transpired during a case, (2) "appeals" records, which document the events surrounding the appeal of a case, and (3) "relations with opponent" records, which provide data on the nature of the relationship between the opposing parties in a dispute. The average record length for Part 1 is 142 characters, and the maximum record length is 1,025 characters. In Part 2, the microcomputer version of the dataset described above, there are 89,607 records generated from the same 2,631 disputes. The average record length is 112 characters with the maximum length being 254 characters. Parts 1 and 2 are documented by the same codebook. Column locations for the first record of the twelfth record type in the microcomputer data should be increased by 13 to match the data. The other records in this group are correctly documented. Part 5 is a textfile containing open-ended questions and answers, and has a maximum logical record length of 80.


Sample:    A random digit dialing scheme was employed for the screener surveys, and varying types of sampling designs were used for courts and institutions. See pages 0-7 through 0-11 of the Comprehensive Datafile codebook for complete details of sampling procedures.

Data Source:

court records, alternative dispute processing institution records, and personal interviews


Original ICPSR Release:   1984-05-03

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