Lee, Gene Moo*, James Naughton*, Xin Zheng*, Dexin Zhou* (2020) “Predicting Litigation Risk via Machine Learning,” Working Paper. [SSRN] (* equal contribution)
- Presented in the Baruch College (2018), UBC (2018), CFMA Conference (2019)
- Funded by SSHRC Insight Development Grant
- Featured in Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance (2021)
- Data: litigation risk scores for 6134 firms in 1996-2015 [link]
- Research assistant: Raymond Situ
This study examines whether and how machine learning techniques can improve the prediction of litigation risk relative to the traditional logistic regression model. Existing litigation literature has no consensus on a predictive model. Additionally, the evaluation of litigation model performance is ad hoc. We use five popular machine learning techniques to predict litigation risk and benchmark their performance against the logistic regression model in Kim and Skinner (2012). Our results show that machine learning techniques can significantly improve the predictability of litigation risk. We identify two best-performing methods (random forest and convolutional neural networks) and rank the importance of predictors. Additionally, we show that models using economically-motivated ratio variables perform better than models using raw variables. Overall, our results suggest that the joint consideration of economically-meaningful predictors and machine learning techniques maximize the improvement of predictive litigation models.