Applying social science methodologies to the study of the law brings law into the real world and yields fascinating and genuinely useful insights. Understanding behavior—of individuals, groups, institutions—can illuminate the past by quantifying a law’s impact and help us write better laws and build better institutions.
Michigan Law brings the expansive toolbox of the social sciences to bear on the law and legal behavior, including a wide range of theoretical, analytical, and empirical methods.
Our faculty includes economists, political scientists, psychologists, and many interdisciplinary empiricists, among others—more than a half dozen with PhDs. They offer courses that use the lenses and methodologies of their disciplines to examine the fundamental structure and dynamics of law.
Our courses offer the opportunity to grapple with the underlying drivers of law and legal behavior. You can then use those ideas to better understand existing laws and to improve the design of public policies.
Descriptive analyses (asking “What is the law?” and “How does law change behavior?”) and normative analyses (asking “What should the law do?” and “Are a law’s consequences good or bad?) help frame the enterprise.
From criminal law, torts, tax, and contracts to administrative law, procedure, and corporate finance, our courses will help you develop skills and insight into how to use social science to understand the law.
Laura Nyantung Beny
- Earl Warren DeLano Professor of Law
- Associate Director, University of Michigan African Studies Center
William J. Novak
- Charles F. and Edith J. Clyne Professor of Law
- Co-director, Program in Race, Law, and History