553.01 Empirical Research Methods in Law

There are three major objectives for this course: (1) to provide you with a substantive understanding of empirical methods and an opportunity to learn the principals of these methods with hands-on experience with easy-to-use statistical software (e.g., Excel and Stata); (2) to develop skills to choose and work with experts, and the ability to develop and refute quantitative evidence; and (3) to develop the necessary skills for critical thinking and evaluation of empirical work in academic studies and expert witness reports.

The course will be divided into three major components. The first section of the course will introduce a broad range of topics in methodology, from study design and hypothesis testing to descriptive statistics and multivariate regression techniques in the context of legal issues faced by practicing attorneys. The second section will include a series of lectures by judges and empirical scholars with a wealth of experience working with and as expert witnesses. The final section of the course will utilize this new knowledge and training to critically evaluate empirical scholarship and expert reports. Together, these course components will provide you with a comprehensive background in empirical methods and will prepare you for sophisticated and critical consumption of statistical analyses. The course also will equip those of you who are interested in pursuing academia with a foundation in quantitative research to produce empirical scholarship.

Participation during class is strongly encouraged, and computers are allowed in the classroom. Course grades will be based on class participation (10%), hands-on exercises (10%), and a discussion paper (80%).  For the paper, you will be asked to evaluate an Expert Report and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the study based on the research methods covered in this course. You have the option to take an in-class exam as a substitute for the paper.


Fall 2018

Course NumberCourse CreditsEvaluation MethodInstructorMeeting Day/TimesRoom
Final Exam, option
Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages, option
In-class exercise
Guangya Liu, Ph.D
4:00-5:55 PM
Degree Requirements
Course Areas of Practice