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Economic Analysis of Law

Course Abbreviation: 
Credit Only: N Anon Gr: Y

This course will introduce students to the economic analysis of law and legal issues. No prior training in economics is assumed, though students with such training are welcome to enroll. Students will be instructed in the nature of economic reasoning and will learn to use fundamental principles of economics to explain legal doctrines and solve legal problems. The course will focus primarily on a positive analysis, investigating whether legal doctrines can best be explained as attempts to promote efficiency, and only secondarily on the normative question of whether the law ought to promote efficiency. After a brief survey of microeconomics, the course will address the major common law areas of property, contracts, torts, and criminal law as well as the legal process. Students will learn how fundamental economic concepts, such as transactions costs, externalities, and risk allocation, can help explain the logic of these large bodies of law, difference among them, and long-standing principles of each. Depending on the pace of coverage, the course may cover topics in other areas, such as corporations and family law.