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The paper offers a formal model of analogical legal reasoning and takes the model to data. Under the model, the outcome of a new case is a weighted average of the outcomes of prior cases. The weights capture precedential influence and depend on fact similarity (distance in fact space) and precedential authority (position in the judicial hierarchy). The empirical analysis suggests that the model is a plausible model for the time series of U.S. maritime salvage cases. Moreover, the results evince that prior cases decided by inferior courts have less influence than prior cases decided by superior courts.

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Am. L. & Econ. Rev. (forthcoming)