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Empirical Legal Studies Panel: Why Does the Legal Profession Resist Rigorous Empiricism?

October 11, 2018 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Speakers: Prof. James Greiner, Prof. Holger Spamann, Harvard Law School

Legal​ ​practitioners​ ​and​ ​courts​ ​deploy,​ ​apply,​ ​and​ ​adjudicate​ ​evidence​ ​concepts​ ​daily.​ ​Yet,​ ​the United​ ​States​ ​legal​ ​profession​ ​rejects​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​generate​ ​rigorous​ ​empirical​ ​evidence​ ​about itself—evidence​ ​that​ ​would​ ​inform​ ​day-to-day​ ​practices.​ ​To​ ​justify​ ​its​ ​resistance,​ ​the​ ​profession recites​ ​arguments​ ​identical​ ​to​ ​those​ ​articulated​ ​in​ ​the​ ​1940s​ ​by​ ​interest​ ​groups​ ​resisting medicine’s​ ​then-evolving​ ​insistence​ ​on​ ​randomized​ ​evaluation​ ​of​ ​new​ ​drugs.​ ​Why​ ​does​ ​the​ ​U.S. legal​ ​profession​ ​resist​ ​rigorous​ ​empiricism?​ And​ ​what​ ​can​ ​be​ ​done​ ​about​ ​it? The panel will attempt to unpack these questions.

Professor Holger Spamann is the Lawrence R. Grove Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches corporate law and corporate finance. His research focuses on the law and economics of corporate governance and financial markets, judicial behavior, and comparative law.

Professor James Greiner is the Honorable S. William Green Professor of Public Law at Harvard Law School. His research focuses on the Access to Justice Lab, where he serves as Faculty Director. The Access to Justice Lab implements randomized field experiments to find out what works for individuals and families who cannot afford to hire lawyers. The Access to Justice Lab is the only entity in the United States that focuses on randomized control trials in the legal profession.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP using this form. Refreshments will be served.


The Harvard Empirical Legal Studies (HELS) Series explores a range of empirical methods, both qualitative and quantitative, and their application in legal scholarship in different areas of the law. It is a platform for engaging with current empirical research, hearing from leading scholars working in a variety of fields, and developing ideas and empirical projects.

HELS is open to all students and scholars with an interest in empirical research. No prior background in empirical legal research is necessary. If you would like to join HELS and receive information about our sessions, please subscribe to our mailing list by completing this form.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the current HELS coordinators: Elena Chachko and Gali Racabi


October 11, 2018
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Categories:
Graduate Program


WCC 3019