As interpreters of law, America’s federal and state judges exert a significant impact on the evolution of economic and social policy. However, while judges typically reach the bench with a sophisticated understanding of the law, they often have little familiarity with economics and struggle to identify tradeoffs and unintended consequences created by particular legal decisions or public policies. A basic knowledge of economics principles, however, can help judges better understand the long-term implications of their decisions, thereby improving the development of the law and benefitting America’s free enterprise system.
For over four decades, the LEC’s Judicial Education Program has helped train the nation’s judges and justices in basic economics, accounting, statistics, regulatory analysis, and other related disciplines. The Program offers intellectually rigorous, balanced, and timely education programs to the nation’s judges and justices in the belief that the fundamental principles of a free and just society depend on a knowledgable and well educated judiciary. To date, over 5,000 federal and state judges from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including three current U.S. Supreme Court Justices, have participated in at least one of the LEC’s judicial education programs. As one JEP participant put it: the courses have “made us better at our work and improved the administration of justice.”
Course offerings include:
Introduction to Economics for Judges: The introduction to economics is the Judicial Education Program’s flagship course offering. Through intensive classroom lectures and discussions, judges are given a grounding in economics, finance, statistics, and the scientific method. The practical relevance of these disciplines is emphasized through the analysis of legal cases. The judges leave equipped with a basic understanding of the economics principles that will aid them in the performance of their jobs and enhance the judicial system.
Case Analysis Seminars: The seminars are for small groups of judges. Cases identified by participants and instructors are analyzed from an economics perspective in a seminar format. Instructors for the May 2018 Case Analysis Seminar are Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, Dean Henry N. Butler, George Mason University Professor Joshua Wright, J.D., Ph.D. and Texas A&M Dean and Professor Andrew Morriss. J.D., Ph.D. (first Dean of the Texas A&M Law School and newly appointed Dean of A&M’s new School of Innovation.)
Workshops: Limited to 20 judges, the workshops incorporate classroom presentations and discussions on focused topics. The programs are organized by leading scholars; advance readings are provided and it is expected that all participants will have read those materials to facilitate an engaged and dynamic discussion.
Judicial Symposia: The symposia provide a focused analysis of current legal and public policy issues in a dynamic format that combines lectures and debates over periods as short as two days to as long as a week. Leading attorneys, economists, and public policy experts provide a basic grounding in the fundamentals of pressing legal issues and debate them from opposing viewpoints.
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