Workshop Series Focuses Students, Faculty on Emerging Law and Economics Scholarship
A series on the workshop culture at the University of Virginia School of Law
Some of the sharpest minds in the field of law and economics first make a stop at the University of Virginia School of Law before finishing their latest paper. The school's Law and Economics workshop series offers the nation's leading academics a chance to have their works-in-progress analyzed and critiqued by UVA Law faculty and students. In turn, the participants providing the feedback gain an inside look at some of the most cutting-edge scholarship in the field.
While the Law School has long had a lunchtime workshop series focused on law and economics topics, in recent years it has been tied to the yearlong Law and Economics Colloquium, a course led by UVA law professors Michal Barzuza and Dotan Oliar that currently enrolls more than 20 students.
"Presenters always come back and say, 'You have a great group here, it's always stimulating, it's always a great workshop,'" Barzuza said. "A presenter who comes here knows that he'll get really high-quality input on his paper. That's why we have people who are always happy to come."
This semester's presenters include law professors David Skeel of the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Jackson and Zohar Goshen of Columbia Law School, Ron Gilson of Stanford University and Lior Strahilevitz of the University of Chicago. (More)
For the students, Barzuza said, the series provides a chance to engage with peers, faculty and outside speakers, and to provide input on emerging legal scholarship. Student participants are expected to read each presenter's working paper ahead of time, submit comments and write short reaction papers to about two thirds of the meetings and participate in the discussion.
"It's a very good way for the students to see the different stages of how papers develop," Barzuza said. "This is a very helpful thing if you want to write papers yourself — like a law review article or a student note. To read other papers and try to think about the weaknesses and the problems and try to comment on them [is a useful process]. When you come to write your own paper, you [will be able to] better anticipate potential hurdles and have a better understanding of what makes a good argument."
Beyond developing the skills to write and analyze legal scholarship, Oliar said, the students gain critical thinking skills that will serve them as lawyers.
"It helps you become a critical listener," he said. "When someone comes to present their paper, there's always an underlying argument. In [the students' reaction] papers, they're asked to think carefully and critically about that argument. What were the weak points?"
Second-year law student Jessica O'Connell said the Law and Economics Colloquium is proving to be a rewarding experience, particularly as it encourages open dialogue between the presenting authors, UVA Law faculty members and students.
"By exchanging perspectives with members of the colloquium, I am strengthening my presentation skills while gaining in-depth exposure to several fields of law," she said.
For faculty members, the colloquium offers a chance to hear new ideas and research from top colleagues from other schools and from UVA, Oliar said.
"If you're a faculty member working in law and economics, this is a way to find out what other people are doing and to be a part of that conversation, that marketplace of ideas," he said.
Thanks to UVA Law's "workshop culture," Barzuza said, each Law and Economics Colloquium is invariably well attended by faculty members and engaged students.
"Speakers know that when they come here, they get value," she said.
Kathryn Judge, an associate professor at Columbia Law School and expert on financial institutions, financial innovation, and the role of intermediaries in the financial markets, presented her working paper, "Interbank Discipline," at the colloquium earlier this month.
"I always enjoy coming to UVA," she said. "There is a wonderful culture of engagement at UVA Law and the Law and Economics Colloquium is no exception. The faculty turnout, the quality of questions from both students and faculty, and the overall focus of the discussion were exceptional."
Oct. 4 Ariell Reshef, University of Virginia
Oct.18 Lior Strahilevitz, University of Chicago
Oct. 25 Ron Gilson, Stanford University
Nov. 1 Zohar Goshen, Columbia University
Jan. 31 Barry Adler, New York University
Feb. 7 Florencia Marota-Wurgler, New York University
Feb. 21 Colleen Chien, Santa Clara University
Feb. 28 Eric Helland, Claremont McKenna College
March 7 Ronen Avarahm, University of Texas
March 21 Abe Wicklgren, University of Texas
April 28 Lisa Bernstein, University of Chicago