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Introduction to Statistics and Empirical Methods for Lawyers

Course Description

Goal and Nature: Statistical and empirical tools and concepts are increasingly used in litigation, regulation, and legal policymaking and research. This course aims at introducing students to, and providing them with basic training in, statistical and empirical tools/methods uses in law-related practice and analysis. Concepts and topics that will be covered include descriptive statistics and graphs, statistical inferences and hypothesis testing, correlation, and regressions (both simple regression and multiple regression. Examples from legal practice and analysis will be used throughout to illustrate the concepts and tools taught. The course is hands-on and applied in nature, with students solving ungraded problems sets and learning to use the STATA standard software package to work with and analyze data.

Sessions: The course will meet for twelve two-hour sessions during the first half of the semester. In particular, the sessions will take place in the 1:00-3:00 pm time slot (block F) on the following twelve days: Wednesday Sept. 4, Thursday Sept. 5, Wednesday Sept. 11, Thursday Sept. 12, Wednesday September 18, Thursday September 19, Wednesday Oct. 2, Thursday Oct, 3, Thursday Oct. 10, Friday Oct. 11, Wednesday Oct. 16, and Thursday Oct. 17.

Final Exam: The grade in the course will be based on the final exam. The exam will take place on Wednesday, October 23, from 1:00- 4:00 pm.

Problem Sets: There will be five (ungraded) problem sets. Although the problem sets will not be graded, solving them is recommended and will provide a good preparation for the final exam. All problem sets will be fully solved and discussed in class.

Course Coordinator: The course coordinator is the instructor’s assistant, Marina Apostol, who can be reached at mapostol@law.harvard.edu.

Office Hours: During the period of the course, the instructor will hold office hours both on Tuesday 3:15-4:45 and on Thursday 4-5:30. If you plan to come to the office hours, please email the course coordinator to get a slot. The instructor will also hold office hours between the last session of the course and the final exam.  

Course Materials: The course materials consist of the PowerPoint slides that the instructor will use and that will be distributed to the students. Students who subsequent to the course wish to expand their knowledge are most welcome to discuss with the instructor about the best way to proceed given their interests. Materials will be made available on the Course Materials page of the course website on Canvas (canvas.harvard.edu), and in the copy center. When readings are available students will be notified by an announcement through the course website.

Course topics: We shall cover the following subjects (with each being the focus of one PowerPoint presentation): 

Prerequisites: The course is open to all students, and no prior work in empirical methods or statistics will be required or assumed. Students who have questions about whether the course will be suitable are welcome to discuss this with the instructor.