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Boilerplate

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Vertical Boilerplate, James Gibson May 2013

Vertical Boilerplate, James Gibson

Law Faculty Publications

Despite what we learn in law school about the “meeting of the minds,” most contracts are merely boilerplate—take-it-or-leave-it propositions. Negotiation is nonexistent; we rely on our collective market power as consumers to regulate contracts’ content. But boilerplate imposes certain information costs because it often arrives late in the transaction and is hard to understand. If those costs get too high, then the market mechanism fails. So how high are boilerplate’s information costs? A few studies have attempted to measure them, but they all use a “horizontal” approach—i.e., they sample a single stratum of boilerplate and assume that it represents the …