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Empirical Approaches to Contract Law (Hoffman,D)
Spring 2020   LAW 918-001  

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Meeting Times/Location
R 1:00PM - 3:00PM
Silverman Hall 270

David Hoffman

Professor of Law

Additional Information

Skills Training
Oral Presentations
Expository Writing

25% Participation,
75% Paper

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement


Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- If you are absent, due to illness or some other unavoidable circumstance, email me and I can ask for volunteers among your classmates to share their notes with you.



This seminar surveys the empirical literature on contracts and contracting. It is organized around three questions, which will serially recur in the readings:

(1) What terms are in contracts, and why? (2) When do firms or individuals pay attention to terms (if ever)? (3) How do individuals and firms respond to contract terms?

That is, rather than approaching the field of contracts from the typical doctrinal or economic perspectives, we will proceed more pragmatically, using sociology and psychology to develop models of how agreements are formed and order relationships.

The primary goal of this course is for students to undertake their own original empirical research project into a contract law adjacent topic. You will be expected to design such a project and execute on it within the semester. Previous examples include collecting and analyzing leases, gym contracts, and IP license agreements, as well as a qualitative interviews into food truck operator contracts and informal transnational loan networks based in Philadelphia.

Course Concentrations

Business and Corporate Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of business and corporate law; Perform legal analysis in the context of business and corporate law; Communicate effectively on topics related to business and corporate law; Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnection between the world of business and finance and that of business and corporate law, and how they affect other areas of law and society.

Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.