2006 Law Review Symposium crunches the numbers on empirical legal scholarship

Legal scholars from top universities convened at Vanderbilt Law School February 17 for a day-long symposium addressing the intersection of empirical legal scholarship and civil litigation. Lee Epstein and Andrew Martin of Washington University presented the keynote address, "Effective Communication of the Results of Empirical Studies," at the symposium, which was planned and coordinated by Program Coordinator Trish Luna and students on the Vanderbilt Law Review staff, headed by Symposium Editor Meredith Capps.

Vanderbilt law professors Richard Nagareda and Bob Thompson commented on three papers presented during a morning panel, "Repeat Players in Civil Litigation." Geoffrey Miller of New York University presented "Ex Ante Choices of Law and Forum: An Empirical Analysis of Corporate Merger Agreements," a paper coauthored with Ted Eisenberg of Cornell University. Jeffrey Rachlinski of Cornell University Law School presented a paper coauthored with Vanderbilt Professor Chris Guthrie, "Insurers, Cognitive Errors & Settlement." Finally, Herbert Kritzer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented "The Commodification of Insurance Defense Practice," a paper addressing the impact of legal compensation on decision-making.

During the afternoon session, "Empirical Perspectives on Trial," Deborah Hensler of Stanford University commented on two papers focusing on courtroom trials: "Juror Questions During Trial: A Window on Juror Thinking," presented by Shari Diamond of Northwestern University and coauthored by Mary Rose of the University of Texas, and "In Texas, Life Is Cheap," coauthored by University of Texas colleagues Frank Cross and Charles Silver and presented by Cross.

"Empirical scholarship has always been an important area of academic research in many disciplines, but it is a relatively recent trend in legal research," Guthrie said. "The organizers of this symposium did an excellent job identifying and attracting top scholars engaged in leading-edge research on the empirics of civil litigation to the symposium."