October 24 – 26, 2008

          Presented by Northwestern University School of Law
                      and Washington University

     The Advanced Course is for law school faculty interested in
     furthering their training in empirical research. The
     workshop is designed for those who have some experience
     with empirical legal research and an understanding of
     elementary statistics (at the level taught in the
     introductory workshop). Topics to be covered will include
     multiple regression, regression models for limited
     dependent variables, presenting results from non-linear
     models, data visualization and graphics, and matching
     methods for casual inference.


     Friday, October 24

     – Introduction to Inference
     – Linear Regression Review
     – Regression Diagnostics
     – In-Class Exercise on Linear Regression

     Saturday, October 25

     – Effectively Presenting Regression Results
     – Presenting Substantive Effects
     – Logit, Probit, and Maximum Likelihood
     – Simulation-based Methods for Computing Substantive
     – In-Class Exercise on Logit and Probit
     – A Tour of Cross-Sectional Models
     – Matching Methods for Causal Inference

     Sunday, October 26

     – More on Matching Methods for Causal Inference
     – Visualization
     – Questions and Wrap-Up


Source:  LSN Professional Announcements and Job Openings, 08/13/2008


This week we cataloged IssueLab — — a site suggested by a faculty member here.  The site collects, archives, and freely shares research data generated by nonprofit organizations.

Here’s the catalog record:

Title: IssueLab [electronic resource]
Imprint: Chicago : IssueLab.
Note: Title from caption (viewed on June 20, 2008).
Note: “Bringing nonprofit research into focus”–Caption subtitle <2008->
Scope and content: “IssueLab is an online publishing forum for nonprofit research. [Its] mission is to more effectively archive, distribute and promote the extensive and diverse body of work being produced by the third sector”–About Us page (viewed on June 20, 2008).
Notes: Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Subject (LC): Nonprofit organizations–Electronic information resources.
Subject (LC): Nonprofit organizations–Research–Electronic information resources.

More on ELS: Judicial Transparency in an Age of Prediction

Judicial Transparency in an Age of Prediction

U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 216

ADAM SAMAHA, University of Chicago – Law School

The Empirical Legal Studies (ELS) movement is making strides toward understanding judicial behavior, and ELS models could become the foundation for more accurate prediction of judicial decisions. This essay raises two questions associated with this development. First, what would an age of predictable judicial behavior look like? Second, would satisfying the informational needs of ELS prediction models also exhaust the demands for “judicial transparency”? My conclusions are that a state of predictable judicial behavior, if somehow stable, would leave almost no litigation to observe; and that a prediction-oriented information policy would nearly meet the demands of today’s transparency advocates. One shortfall involves the intrinsic/consumption value of adjudication for intellectuals and others. A prediction-oriented policy would not meet that demand and could even thwart its satisfaction which presents an unappreciated normative choice for information policy.


Source: LSN: University of Chicago Law School, Public Law & Legal Theory, Vol. 10 No. 6,  06/10/2008

Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court

Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court

2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 60, 2009

CAROLYN SHAPIRO, Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago-Kent College of Law

In recent years, the legal academy has experienced a surge of interest in quantitative empirical analysis. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm has not always been accompanied by careful analysis of what the tools and resources of quantitative analysis can tell us about law and legal doctrine. As this Article demonstrates, the findings of some studies therefore unwittingly reflect the limitations of those tools and resources rather than providing insight into the workings of courts.

Specifically, this Article provides a long-overdue critical analysis of the most influential source of data about the Supreme Court, the Original Supreme Court Database, created by political scientist Harold J. Spaeth. The Database, which codes every opinion issued by the Supreme Court since 1953, contains coding for legal provisions considered by the court and for what Spaeth calls issue and issue area. Although numerous scholars – within both political science and law – rely on them, these codes do not report reliable information about the role that law and legal doctrine plays in the Supreme Court’s cases. The Database does not reliably report the legal provisions or doctrines relied upon or at issue; it does not attempt to report legal issues at all, instead describing the “public policy context” of the case; and by design, it generally reports only one issue per case. These limitations have important, but poorly understood, implications for the many, many scholars who rely on the Database, and the Article describes a number of specific studies whose results are unreliable because of the way they use the Database.

This critique of the Database and the ways scholars use it can help scholars to be smarter and more accurate in their use of the Database. At the same time, the Article explores ways to incorporate law and legal doctrine into empirical legal scholarship. To further both goals, the Article presents the results of my Recoding Project of a random sample of recent Supreme Court cases. The findings of the Recoding Project confirm that significant information about law and doctrine is omitted from the databases. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the databases systematically underreport law and doctrine related to courts in particular and to the structure and operations of government in general – issues that may be very salient to the justices in at least some cases. By demonstrating what information is missing or misstated in the Database and by exploring ways to develop more comprehensive and law-focused coding protocols, this Article helps positive scholars – whether political scientists or legal academics – to consider how to take account of law. The Article concludes by discussing implications for future research.

Source:  LSN Law & Positive Political Theory Vol. 4 No. 9,  06/10/2008

Law’s Reality: Case Studies in Empirical Research on Law

This “Special Research Issue” of the Journal of Law and Society (formerly the British Journal of Law and Society), “Law’s Reality: Case Studies in Empirical Research on Law,” edited by Martin Partington, provides 12 articles in which

. . . experienced researchers tell us how they went about their research, the principal challenges they faced, and how they endeavoured to overcome them, offer a practical introduction to work that is important, challenging, and enlightening.  They can also be used as case studies by those who are developing workshops or other forms of training in empirical research in law.

. . .

Much discussion about empirical research on law focuses on the United Kingdom.  In this collection a number of papers have an international dimension: Perry-Kessaris on the relationship between foreign investment decisions and local legal systems; Outhwaite and her colleagues on the effectiveness of international frameworks for dealing with biosecurity risks; and Vogel’s study of United States plea-bargaining.