Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Last Friday and Saturday, four of my colleagues at the University of Illinois College of Law (David Hyman, Jay Kesan, Bob Lawless, and Jen Robbennolt) and I attended the Third Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies. The conference was held at Cornell Law School in beautiful Ithaca, New York. Our hosts (and the co-organizers) were Ted Eisenberg, Valerie Hans, Michael Heise, and Jeff Rachlinski. They all deserve a great round of applause for a marvelous conference.
From a relatively modest but enthusiastic number of people attending the first conference two years ago at the University of Texas Law School, the number of attendees at the Cornell conference exploded to 350. Michael Heise told me that the organizers' wildest upper-bound estimate on attendance was just above 200, and that they were nearly overwhelmed by the number who found their way to Ithaca. There was a full and enticing schedule of papers from early on Friday till late on Saturday, and most sessions had seven concurrent panels.
I had the pleasure of commenting on Anthony Niblett, Richard Posner, and Andrei Shleifer's "The Evolution of a Common Law Rule," which was very ably presented by Anthony. The paper, available on SSRN, is a very important study of the extent to which state appellate courts converged on an efficient interpretation of the economic loss rule between 1970 and 2005. The long and the short of a complex story is that the courts did not converge on the efficient or any other single interpretation of the ELR. There is much food for thought in the paper.
Next year's CELS is at the Gould Law School of the University of Southern California on November 20-21. And the following year (2010) the conference will be held at University College London.