Law and Human Behavior
This course will provide students with concrete insights from the social and natural sciences to help them become lawyers better able to assess both clients and the workings of the legal system as a whole. Often, legal analysis imbues both clients and the legal system with the qualities of rationality: clients engage in cost-benefit calculations of success and the standard of the legal system is the “reasonable person.” Recent developments in the social and natural sciences raise questions about the sufficiency of these models. The standard definition of rationality may be too narrow – a client may want an apology from an adversary rather than just a monetary award – and clients and legal systems do not always act in rational ways. The seminar will focus on understanding the sciences’ insights into human behavior as a predicate for effective legal assessment, regulation, and redress. Examples will be drawn from a wide array of legal contexts. The goal is to provide students with a richer set of analytic and practical tools for them to become more effective attorneys in whatever area they may come to practice.