Empirical Legal Studies

Over the past generation, empirical work has figured more and more prominently in judicial decisions, administrative rulings, and the research of legal academics. UCLA has one of the strongest programs in the country for law students interested in empirical legal studies, the Empirical Legal Scholars Program (ELS). There are three distinct curricular strategies:

a) Students interested in learning how to do academic or policy work involving empirical research can apply to the UCLA-RAND Empirical Legal Scholars Program. Applications are accepted at the time of admission and during the spring of the first year. The Program includes Law 279 and Law 579, a two-semester sequence taught by ELS faculty. The course teaches empirical methods through a focus on social science research that deals with legal topics such as bankruptcy, capital punishment, punitive damages, and judicial behavior. In the second half of the sequence, students do original research under faculty supervision. Students are eligible for a summer internship at the nearby RAND Corporation.

b) Students interested in learning how quantitative methods are used in judicial opinions, government regulation and the practice of law can take one of the one-semester courses offered: Law 394, a 4-credit course in which students learn inferential statistics and regression analysis, and apply these in three realistic legal settings

c) Students who already have empirical training and have specific research questions in mind can pursue individual research projects (Law 340, Law 341 or Law 345) with individual professors. ELS faculty are available to serve as "second readers" on these projects, providing empirical guidance and supervision as needed.

None of these three paths are strictly duplicative, and students can work with ELS faculty to develop curricular plans tailored to their particular interests and skills.

Students undertake legal research under the supervision of a faculty member resulting in an original scholarly paper analyzing a particular area of law. All work must be done under a faculty member’s...

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Students undertake legal research under the supervision of a faculty member resulting in an original scholarly paper analyzing a particular area of law. All work must be done under a faculty member’s...

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Students undertake original research, usually involving empirical or field study, and produce a paper analyzing their findings. All work must be done under a faculty member’s supervision, and several...

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R. Sander

Although numbers and empirical analysis now pervade many fields of law, most lawyers have few skills in presenting or interpreting data or quantitative arguments. This course develops those skills. ...

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C. Fischer R. Fordon K. Gerson C. Hunter J. Kruger E. Meyers

This course is designed to provide students with the research skills needed in the practice of law.

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J. Horwitz

Health care is at the center of many of the most important and controversial policy issues in the U.S. This colloquium provides participants with an opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research...

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B. Nyblade

This is a seminar focused on guiding students conducting original empirical legal research. It introduces the fundamentals of research design, statistics and data analysis in the first half of the...

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R. Sander

To a growing degree, the sophisticated practice of law requires a familiarity with quantitative methods and an understanding of how judges apply these methods in hearing and deciding cases. This...

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R. Steinberg

This seminar briefly introduces students to international criminal law, then focuses on contemporary issues facing the International Criminal Court (ICC). At each weekly class meeting, we will...

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J. Horwitz

The U.S. health care system is the most expensive system (per capita) on earth, often not particularly effective at improving health, and terribly controversial. The members of this course will...

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J. Shapiro

Storytelling is not a metaphor for legal advocacy. It is legal advocacy itself. This course uses a single book and fictional stories about lawyers in film and television to understand what narrative...

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The U.S. health care system is the most expensive system (per capita) on earth, often not particularly effective at improving health, and terribly controversial. The members of this course will...

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B. Nyblade R. Sander

Lawyers’ advocacy for their clients and the public good often goes beyond direct representation of clients and involves critically evaluating and promoting better public policy and law through a wide...

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