Law 165 - Court File Empiricism
Lynn M. LoPucki
J.D. University of Michigan, 1967
LL.M. Harvard, 1970
Court opinions are the principal subject of legal education, but only one of many types of documents in court files. The files also contain pleadings, motions, affidavits, transcripts, briefs, memoranda, orders, pretrial statements, jury instructions, verdicts, appellate records, and much more. Complete case files are available online for the United States District Courts and Bankruptcy Courts. Legal scholars are just beginning to discover and exploit this rich source of data. In this course, students will read legal scholarship using court file empiricism as a basis for arguing for changes in public policy. In addition, students will see how court file empiricism can be used to predict case outcomes, providing enhanced guidance for clients. Students will also get hands-on experience in working with the files and with data systematically extracted from court files. Emphasis will be on the differences resulting from the addition of court file documents. Working individually or in two-person teams, students will compare court opinions of the students’ own choosing with court file documents from the same cases and present their discoveries for discussion. Short written answers to the exercises are required.