Steven M. Shavell
CoursesAnalytical Methods for Lawyers (taught with David Cope, Howell Jackson and Louis Kaplow)
Lawyers in almost every area of practice (litigation, corporate, government, public interest) deal routinely with problems that are usefully illuminated by basic business and economic concepts. This course is designed to teach the most important analytical methods to law students, in a manner that will be fully accessible to those with no prior quantitative training or background in the subjects covered. We will use a combination of text, classroom activities, instructional software and written exercises. We will show you how these tools may be used to analyze concrete problems that arise in a wide range of legal practice settings.The course will consist of seven units:
Decision Analysis, Games and Information
Lawyers assist their clients in making a wide variety of decisions, ranging from the settlement of lawsuits to the purchase of property. We will explore a standard technique that has been developed to organize thinking about decision-making problems and to solve them. We will also consider strategic interactions between parties and considerations related to imperfect information.
Lawyers write many contracts, concerning such matters as acquisitions of land or corporations, creation of partnerships and nonprofit entities, settlement of lawsuits, financing arrangements and government procurement. This unit presents practical principles concerning what issues should be addressed in contracts and how they might be best resolved.
Lawyers who counsel clients in conducting their affairs or who represent them in litigation must understand parties' financial circumstances and dealings, which often are repsresented in financial statements. Basic accounting concepts will be introduced, and the relationship between accounting and economic reality will be examined.
Legal advice in business transactions, division of assets upon divorce, litigation, and many other matters require knowledge of valuation, assessment of financial risk and comprehension of the relationship betwen those who provide financing and those who need it. We will consider basic principles of finance, such as present value, the tradeoff between risk and return, conflicts among groups, the importance of diversification and basic methods for valuing financial assets.
Lawyers need to understand that their clients' and other parties' economic situations and opportunities as well as the principles that underlie many of the rules of our legal system. This unit presents basic economic concepts - the operation of competitive markets, imperfect competition and market failures - that are necessary to this understanding.
Law and Economics
Legal rules have important effects on clients' interests, which must be appreciated by lawyers who advise them and by judges, regulators and lesgislators who formulate legal rules. We will explore these effects using the economic approach to law, with illustrations from torts, contracts, property law enforcement and legal procedure.
Statistics and Regression
Legal matters increasingly involve the use of statistics in business contexts, in the promulgation of government regulations, in the measurement of damages, in attempts to make inferences concerning parties' behavior (such as those regarding discrimination and employment) and in determination of causation (in tort, contract and other disputes). We will address the basic conepts of statistics and regression analysis, as well as issues that commonly arise when statistics are used in the courtoom.
The Analytical Methods course was initially developed for first-year law students without any prior training in the topics covered, and in prior years, the course was limited to first-year students. As the course introduces students to a range of skills that are useful in both upper-level courses and legal practice, second-and third-year students as well as candidates for LL.M. degrees may also wish to enroll. The course is now open to any Law School student who has not previously taken or is contemporaneously enrolled in two or more of the following Law School courses: Accounting (two credits), Corporate Finance, Economic Analysis of Law, and Statistics/Regressions. Space permitting, students may enroll for the first four units of the course (2 classroom credits = course #30310-32) or the last three units (2 classroom credits = course #30310-33).
Economic Analysis of Law
This course will systematically develop and examine the economic approach to the analysis of law. Property, tort, contract, criminal law and the litigation process will be discussed. Also, the relationship between welfare economics, morality, and the law will be examined.
There are no prerequisites for taking the course; all students are welcome.
Law and Economics Seminar (taught with Lucian Bebchuk and Louis Kaplow)
This seminar (Section A taught in the fall, Section B taught in the spring) will provide students with an opportunity to discuss ongoing research in economic analysis of law. At most of the meetings invited speakers - many from the Law School - will present works in progress. Outside speakers have included Cass Sunstein, Robert Ellickson, Richard Posner, and Richard Revesz.
Students are required to submit, before sessions, brief written comments on the papers to be presented. Enrollment in either or both terms is permitted.