This course is an elective that is suitable for first-year law students. It provides an introduction to the economic analysis of law, a field that has had a significant impact on legal scholarship, judicial opinions, and policymaking. Economic analysis offers an intellectual framework to analyze basic questions, such as how scarce resources should be allocated, what incentives actors face in making decisions or choosing actions, and how legal rules affect and are affected by those incentives. The course will introduce basic concepts of microeconomic analysis, including, e.g., the concepts of utility maximization, external costs, efficiency and equity, the three types of “rules” for protecting entitlements, and public choice theory. We will apply those concepts to various legal doctrines and principles, most of which will have been covered by students in the required first-year courses. Our discussions will include normative and behavioral considerations and criticisms of the economic analysis of law.
The final grade will be based on a final examination, with class participation to be factored in on a plus/minus basis (i.e., a student’s final grade in the course may be “bumped” up or down from the grade on the final examination based on especially strong or weak class participation).