Law and Economics

In recent decades, legal scholars and judges have increasingly relied on economic analysis to assess a wide-ranging legal doctrines, lawmaking processes, and institutions. Familiarity with Law and Economics is often critical to effective advocacy. This course will take a somewhat unusual approach. Many introductory courses focus exclusively on neoclassical economic analysis of the common law. We will take a broader view of both the relevant tools and applications, combining neoclassical analysis with public choice methodologies and applying these concepts to private and public law.

We will begin with a non-mathematical introduction to price theory, which will provide the basis for a neoclassical survey of the common law doctrines of Tort, Contract, and Property, in addition to Criminal Law and the Judicial Process. We will then introduce the various public choice tools—interest group theory, social choice theory, and elementary game theory—that are essential in analyzing public law doctrines and lawmaking institutions.

Although this course is designed for students with no prior exposure to economics, students who have a background are most welcome. The only prerequisites are a curious mind and a willingness to challenge conventional thinking. I promise to explain the very minimal equations (or inequalities) that my terrific new coauthor (an Economist) insists on including in clear, simple, and lawyerly prose. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, short writing exercises, and a final exam (no math is required for any of this). Please note that we will be using pre-publication materials from my forthcoming text: STEARNS, ZYWICKI, AND MICELI, LAW AND ECONOMICS: PRIVATE AND PUBLIC (West) (forthcoming). As an added bonus, the course will provide an opportunity to catch mistakes and improve the eventual publication!

Key to Codes in Course Descriptions
P: Prerequisite
C: Prerequisite or Concurrent Requirement
R: Recommended Prior or Concurrent Course