We study the effect of campaign contributions to lead plaintiffs—“pay to play”—on the level of attorney fees in securities class actions. We find that state pension funds generally pay lower attorney fees when they serve as lead plaintiffs in securities class actions than do individual investors serving in that capacity, and larger funds negotiate for lower fees. This differential disappears, however, when we control for campaign contributions made to offcials with infuence over state pension funds. This effect is most pronounced when we focus on state pension funds that receive the largest campaign contributions and that associate repeatedly as lead plaintiff with a single plaintiff’s attorney firm. Thus, pay to play appears to increase agency costs borne by shareholders in securities class actions, undermining one of Congress’s principal goals in adopting the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.
Pritchard, Adam C. "The Price of Pay to Play in Securities Class Actions." S. J. Choi and D. T. Johnson-Skinner, co-authors. J. Empirical Legal Stud. 8, no. 4 (2011): 650-81.