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About This Site



Cornell Law Professor, Valerie Hans

Today’s attorneys can expect to encounter scientific and technical materials in their legal practices. This site, which provides case studies and analyses of the use of social science in law, is produced in conjunction with a course I teach at Cornell Law School on Social Science and Law. The course, and the web site, have two broad aims:  (1) to support the development of a  critical ability to identify sound (or flawed) social science research, and (2) to learn how to employ social science theory and research to address legal questions. Cases included in the course and on the web site illustrate both successes and failures in the use of social science in law across a diverse array of topics, including race and gender discrimination in education and employment, trademark litigation, the death penalty, punitive damages, predictions of dangerousness, drug courier profiles, battered woman syndrome, and eyewitness testimony.

This web site presents analyses of some of the key cases and topics involving social science and law. It offers links to many of the relevant social science research articles, relevant research materials, expert reports, and other legal documents in these cases. It also includes video interviews with key lawyers and social scientists who reflect on the use of social science in legal contexts. It’s my hope that this enriched presentation, which goes well beyond what can be offered in traditional law school casebooks, will help in the development of a deep appreciation of the complexities of using social science in legal domains.