553 Empirical Research Methods in Law

There are three major objectives for this course: (1) to provide you with a substantive understanding of empirical methods and an opportunity to learn the principals of these methods with hands-on experience with easy-to-use statistical software (e.g., Excel and Stata); (2) to develop skills to choose and work with experts, and the ability to develop and refute quantitative evidence; and (3) to develop the necessary skills for critical thinking and evaluation of empirical work in academic studies and expert witness reports.

The course will be divided into three major components. The first section of the course will introduce a broad range of topics in methodology, from study design and hypothesis testing to descriptive statistics and multivariate regression techniques in the context of legal issues faced by practicing attorneys. The second section will include a series of lectures by judges and empirical scholars with a wealth of experience working with and as expert witnesses. The final section of the course will utilize this new knowledge and training to critically evaluate empirical scholarship and expert reports. Together, these course components will provide you with a comprehensive background in empirical methods and will prepare you for sophisticated and critical consumption of statistical analyses. The course also will equip those of you who are interested in pursuing academia with a foundation in quantitative research to produce empirical scholarship.

Participation during class is strongly encouraged, and computers are allowed in the classroom. Course grades will be based on class participation (10%), hands-on exercises (10%), and a discussion paper (80%).  For the paper, you will be asked to evaluate an Expert Report and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the study based on the research methods covered in this course. You have the option to take an in-class exam as a substitute for the paper.

 

Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Seminar
Learning Outcomes
Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context
2018
Fall 2018
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

553.01 2
  • Final Exam, option
  • Final paper (10+ pages in length), option
  • In-class exercise
Guangya Liu, Ph.D W 4:00-5:55 PM 4046

There are three major objectives for this course: (1) to provide you with a substantive understanding of empirical methods and an opportunity to learn the principals of these methods with hands-on experience with easy-to-use statistical software (e.g., Excel and Stata); (2) to develop skills to choose and work with experts, and the ability to develop and refute quantitative evidence; and (3) to develop the necessary skills for critical thinking and evaluation of empirical work in academic studies and expert witness reports.

The course will be divided into three major components. The first section of the course will introduce a broad range of topics in methodology, from study design and hypothesis testing to descriptive statistics and multivariate regression techniques in the context of legal issues faced by practicing attorneys. The second section will include a series of lectures by judges and empirical scholars with a wealth of experience working with and as expert witnesses. The final section of the course will utilize this new knowledge and training to critically evaluate empirical scholarship and expert reports. Together, these course components will provide you with a comprehensive background in empirical methods and will prepare you for sophisticated and critical consumption of statistical analyses. The course also will equip those of you who are interested in pursuing academia with a foundation in quantitative research to produce empirical scholarship.

Participation during class is strongly encouraged, and computers are allowed in the classroom. Course grades will be based on class participation (10%), hands-on exercises (10%), and a discussion paper (80%).  For the paper, you will be asked to evaluate an Expert Report and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the study based on the research methods covered in this course. You have the option to take an in-class exam as a substitute for the paper.

 

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None
2016
Fall 2016
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

553.01 1
  • Final paper (10+ pages in length)
  • Take-home examination
  • Oral presentation
  • In-class exercise
Guangya Liu, Ph.D TuTh 1:45-2:40 PM 4040

Empirical methods are central to modern law practice. They are used regularly in complex business transactions, damage calculations, antitrust litigations, and discrimination litigations. Accordingly, attorneys are increasingly required to review, understand, and employ empirical data in civil and criminal litigation, appellate practice, and governmental affairs. Working with experts and developing and refuting quantitative evidence are critical skills to successful practicing lawyers. This course is designed to provide students an opportunity to bridge knowledge and practice by learning basic statistical concepts and methods for applications to litigation, legislative advocacy, and legal research. Students taking this course will gain a fundamental understanding of empirical methods and have an opportunity to learn the principals of these methods with hands-on experience using statistical software. Students will develop new skills for critical thinking and evaluation of empirical work in academic studies and expert witness reports, will gain new expertise to work with experts, and will acquire the ability to effectively develop and refute quantitative evidence.

The course will be divided into two major components. The first section of the course will introduce a broad range of topics in methodology, from study design and hypothesis testing to descriptive statistics and multivariate regression techniques in the context of legal issues faced by practicing attorneys. The second of the course will utilize this new knowledge and training to critically evaluate empirical scholarship and expert reports. No prior knowledge of mathematics, statistics, or software is required and law students from all experiential backgrounds will be able to complete the coursework and exercises based solely on class lectures and tutorials. Course grades will be based on class participation (10%), hands-on exercises (10%), a take-home midterm (30%), and a final paper (50%).

Pre/Co-requisites
None
Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.