In recent years, proof based on statistical evidence has come to play a key role in diverse types of litigation. Some prominent examples are epidemiologic studies in mass tort cases, screening and profiling in criminal cases, medical testing in medical monitoring claims, multiple regression models in employment discrimination cases, and Bayesian analyses in DNA and other identification evidence. To comprehend statistical methods, to use them correctly, and to expose errors by others are challenges for most lawyers and judges.
The purpose of this seminar is to prepare students for this brave new world by introducing them to the basic concepts of probability and statistics as they have appeared in the legal arena. The emphasis is not on calculation but on the logic of statistical evidence and inference. The goal of the seminar is to equip students to recognize issues raised by the quantitative methods of statistics and probability, to write clearly and confidently about statistical issues in the law, and to work more knowledgeably with experts. Students write a short paper, and take a multiple-choice final examination. The course does not require previous study in statistics.
The course is graded by regular letter grade, but students can elect to take the course for Credit/Fail. The final date to inform the Law School's Registration Services Office of your choice to be graded Credit/Fail is February 15. Registrants from other Columbia divisions must take the course for a regular letter grade; they cannot take the course for Pass/Fail.