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24 July 2006


Kate Litvak

I tried to use a few empirical finance papers on venture capital contracts in my Deals class. That was not a good idea. Nobody could read those papers -- and my students were business types who selected themselves into the seminar!

I suspect the best one can do is to include conclusions from empirical papers, rather than papers themselves, into a course reading list. This, however, runs a serious risk of indoctrination. Normally, students can read professors' biases and ignore the proselytizing. But when we present them with a carefully selected set of empirical papers that confirm our political views (or worse yet, carefully selected summaries of those papers, which conveniently fail to discuss fatal problems with analysis), students have little chance for objectivity. We all know academics who just happen to never find anything that doesn’t confirm their priors; if they start using empirical papers in their classes, I feel sorry for their students.

Anne Joseph

In my Administrative Law class, I discuss David Epstein and Sharyn O’Halloran's empirical work from Delegating Powers: A Transaction Cost Politics Approach to Policy Making under Separate Powers (1999) during the week on the non-delegation doctrine. I also use Judith Resnik's 2004 ELS piece, "Migrating, Morphing, and Vanishing: The Empirical and Normative Puzzles of Declining Trial Rates in Courts", to introduce the prevalence of agency adjudications. I plan to add Tom Miles and Cass Sunstein's recent paper, "Do Judges Make Regulatory Policy? An Empirical Investigation of Chevron" to the collection of Chevron studies for the judicial review section.

Katie Porter

I'd direct your attention to The Law of Debtors and Creditors by Elizabeth Warren and Jay Westbrook to see what I have found to be masterful integration of empirical research with traditional textbook material. See p. 116 of the fifth edition for a discussion of their emphasis on empirical data. For an example of this approach, see pages 412-413 (discussing studies showing fees for chapter 11 cases).

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