Law 594 - Quantitative Methods in the Courtroom

Richard H. Sander

Richard H. Sander

Professor of Law
B.A. Harvard, 1978
M.A. Economics, Northwestern, 1985
J.D. Northwestern, 1988
Ph.D. Economics, Northwestern, 1990
UCLA Faculty Since 1989
Course Description:

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 seminar examines some of the most widely used statistical tools and explores how courts have used each of these tools in deciding cases and, indeed, in developing jurisprudence. Each week we will study a specific method and examine how it helped resolve a specific case or legal transaction. Methods we study will include inferential statistics, Chi-square analysis, regression analysis, and descriptive statistics. Applications will include examples from torts, constitutional law, employment discrimination, criminal law, business law, and environmental law.

It's recommended that students in this class have taken an undergraduate course in statistics, but motivated students who have not taken such a class (and even math-phobes) are welcome provided they are willing to do some remedial work at the beginning of the semester. Seminar requirements include periodic homework assignments, class discussion of assigned materials, and two 7-9 page papers. (Students may elect to do a third paper and thereby satisfy the school's SAW requirement.) For more information, please contact the professor.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will:

            1)  Be skilled in the use of inferential statistics and regression analysis;

            2)  Understand how courts make use of data analysis and statistics in many areas of the law, including constitutional law, torts, criminal law, and civil rights;

            3)  Have insight into both the strengths and pitfalls of quantitative arguments;

            4)  Learn how to design and implement a research project aimed at digesting data and testing legal and social science hypotheses with data.

            5) Become better consumers of statistical and social science findings.