This course provides an introduction to the economic analysis of law, a field that has had an enormous and growing impact on both legal scholarship, judicial opinions and policymaking in the last three decades.
Economic analysis can give students an intellectual framework to analyze basic questions such as "how should scarce resources be allocated," "what incentives do actors face" and "how do legal rules affect (and how are rules affected by) those incentives."
The course will provide students with a set of economic tools that can be applied to analyzing any field of law from environmental to criminal to constitutional to financial law. Students will be exposed to the following concepts and methods, among others, which might explain not only current law, but also help analyze the historical development of a field of law, as well as prospective changes in the law:
economic rationality, utility and maximization;
efficiency versus equity;
costs, including opportunity, transaction, information and agency costs;
risk allocation, risk spreading, insurance and moral hazard;
the Coase Theorem and private ordering;
game theory and the logic of collective action;
public versus private goods;
political economy including public choice theory;
behavioral law and economics;
A constant theme throughout the course is the interaction of law and markets - with a very broad conception of "markets" (students will be introduced to how economists see markets in areas that include not only familiar commercial contexts -- like stock exchanges -- but also unfamiliar and perhaps shocking contexts such as the market for spouses).
Students will engage in both theoretical and empirical approaches to economic analysis. Moreover, students will develop the capacity to analyze different analytic approaches and evaluate their respective strengths and limitations; the course will include a discussion of critiques of law and economics.
Students will be graded on a final paper and class presentation of that paper and, possibly, shorter writing assignments or exercises. Students will be expected to critique constructively each other's research.
STUDENTS WHO EXPECT TO FULFILL THE LAW SCHOOL'S WRITING REQUIREMENT THROUGH THIS CLASS MUST SPEAK WITH THE PROFESSOR BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS TO DEVELOP A SCHEDULE TO ENSURE THAT THE REQUIREMENT COULD BE MET IN A TIMELY MANNER.