A conference at the University of Virginia School of Law will bring together more than 200 scholars from around the world who are interested in the empirical analysis of law and legal institutions.

The 16th annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies will be held Nov. 4-5. The event is sponsored by UVA Law, the Society for Empirical Legal Studies and the school’s Center for Empirical Studies in Law.

Anne-Marie Slaughter will deliver the keynote address Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, former dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, and the CEO of New America.

Professors Michal Barzuza, Kevin Cope and Quinn Curtis are organizing the conference.

“Empirical legal studies is critical because it provides evidence of the real impact of law, judges, courts and policies, and allows us to address important issues with concrete data,” Curtis said. “Often, the effects of legal changes are surprising and unintuitive, and empirical evidence is required to understand real-world consequences.”

Participants will present papers that engage empirical and experimental scholarship on legal issues spanning all areas of empirical legal studies. The papers, selected through a peer review process, are presented in panels, with assigned commenters for each paper and opportunities for audience discussion.

“The UVA Law faculty features almost two dozen leading empirical researchers, including scholars working at the intersections of economics, political science, psychology, finance and other fields,” Cope said. “Among other things, CELS is an opportunity for UVA to showcase this expertise with over 200 of the world’s prominent empirical legal scholars.”

Participating UVA Law faculty include Barzuza, Cope, Curtis and Professors Thomas Frampton, George S. Geis, Thomas Haley, Andrew Hayashi, Cathy Hwang, Rich Hynes, Jason S. Johnston, Julia Mahoney, Paul G. Mahoney, John Monahan, Richard Schragger, Barbara Spellman, Megan Stevenson, Pierre-Hugues Verdier and Mila Versteeg. Barzuza, Hwang, Paul G. Mahoney, Stevenson and Versteeg are presenting papers.

The CELS Program Committee includes Hayashi, Hwang, Hynes, Monahan, Spellman, Stevenson, Verdier, Versteeg and Professors Naomi Cahn, Joshua Fischman, Mitu Gulati, David Law, Michael Livermore, Dotan Oliar, Kimberly Jenkins Robinson and Rip Verkerke.

Other UVA participants include Professors Ian Appel, Richard Evans and Pedro Matos of the Darden School of Business, and Professors David Chapman, Sheisha Kulkarni and David Smith of the McIntire School of Commerce.

A pre-conference workshop on Nov. 3 will focus on the credibility crisis facing empirical studies, in light of recent research that has exposed the prevalence of nonreplicable evidence in biomedical and social sciences. To address the crisis, empirical fields and publishers are starting to impose requirements on researchers, such as mandatory disclosures related to funding, conflicts of interest, data, analysis scripts and other materials, preregistration of research agendas and sample size justification. The workshop will cover methods for conducting credible research and developing research agendas.

Full Schedule


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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