Special Topics in Law: Empirical Legal Studies Seminar - LAW 731

2 Hours

In recent decades, empirical work has become increasingly important in judicial decisions, administrative rulings, and legal scholarship. For example, the Supreme Court’s most recent decision on punitive damages relied explicitly on empirical scholarship to determine the best approach. This course explores the various tools that lawyers, expert witnesses, and legal scholars employ in generating novel insight into the role of laws and legal institutions. These tools will include simple summaries of existing data, regression analysis, and other methods of empirical analysis. Half of each class will be devoted to an example of legal scholarship or expert witness material that relies on a particular empirical methodology. The other half will be devoted to a hands-on exploration of that methodology with the professor’s assistance. This course neither requires, nor assumes, any familiarity with mathematics, statistics, or computer software beyond the high school level. Students will focus on implementation and interpretation of various methods as opposed to the mathematics underlying those methods. As a methods-driven course, the legal topics discussed will be varied and may include criminal law, antitrust, torts, contracts, corporate law, tax law, healthcare law, etc.