Fall 2023 ELF course description at semester start (1)

Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Alma Cohen Harvard Law School Fall 2023 Empirical Law and Finance 1 Course Description Goal: Empirical tools have been increasingly used in litigation and policymaking in corporate law, corporate governance, securities regulation, and financial regulation. This course will aim to expose students to, and contribute to their ability to engage with, empirical work in these fields. To this end, we will discuss in each session the current or recent empirical research of professors (from both law schools and business schools) that will present their empirical work on law and finance issues to the class and engage with student questions and comments regarding this work. Sessions: The course will meet for six two-hour sessions in the Mondays 3:45 - 5:45 slot of the course. These six sessions will be concentrated during the first two months of the semester. In particular, the six sessions of the course will take place on the following six dates: Monday, September 11; Monday, September 18; Monday, October 2; Monday, October 16; Monday, Oct 23; and Monday, Nov 6. Course materials: The course materials for each session will be recent or current studies by the presenter that use empirical tools to examine issues at the intersection of law and finance. No technical knowledge of empirical methods or financial economics will be required. However, some familiarity with financial economic or empirical reasoning - or at least an interest in or tolerance for them - will be useful. Students who have questions regarding whether the course would suit their interests should feel free to contact the instructor to discuss the subject. Readings for each session will be made available on the Course Materials page of the course website on Canvas ( canvas.harvard.edu ). Primary course requirement: There will be no exam. Instead, students will submit prior to sessions written memo/s on materials that will be presented in the session. Students may submit one or two memos (the nature of which is discussed further below) prior to any given session. The course requirement is the submission of a total of seven memos. Students are required to submit at least one memo for each of the five sessions of the course after the first session. As to the two additional memos, students will be free to allocate them among sessions by submitting one or two memos for the first session and/or by submitting a second memo for one or two subsequent sessions. In sessions in which two papers will be presented and circulated in advance, each submitted memo will have to focus on only one of the papers. Memos that students
Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Alma Cohen Harvard Law School Fall 2023 Empirical Law and Finance 2 elect to submit for the first session will count towards the required total of seven memos, but their assessment will count only favorably and will in no case operate to lower a student's grade. The grades for the memos will be determined at the end of the term, based on the entire body of each student's memos submitted during the semester. In addition, a student's grade can also be improved by class participation (discussed further below). Nature of Memos: Each brief memo submitted prior to a session should generally be about one to two pages, 1.5-spaced. Whereas a part of a memo can describe relevant aspects of the paper, at least a significant part of the memo should focus on making point/s of the kind that could be raised in a seminar discussion of the readings. In particular, in their memos, students may discuss one or more potential weaknesses or limitations of the analysis, one or more questions raised by it, one or more additional related issues that could be worth examining, alternative explanations for reported findings, potential policy implications of the analysis, and so forth. Because students taking the course might substantially vary in their background and interests, students should feel free to focus on points and use approaches that best fit their interests and backgrounds. Format and submission of memos: Each memo should be submitted as a pdf file (.pdf). All memos should be submitted by 8:00AM on the day of the session for which memos are submitted. Please submit by logging into Canvas with your Harvard ID and PIN. Once you have logged in and selected the Empirical Law and Finance course, you can submit memos by clicking on Assignments in the left-hand-side menu and then selecting the appropriate session and uploading your memo by clicking Submit Assignment in the right-hand-side menu . If you choose to submit a memo on both papers presented at a session, please submit them separately (don't combine into one pdf document). If you have any technical problems with the submission of memos, please contact the student help desk at (617) 496-1316. Attendance / Participation: Students are expected to attend sessions regularly, and students who have to miss a session for health or other reasons should let the course coordinator know. Because students submitting memos will have thought critically about the readings before each session, sessions are expected to contain a great deal of student discussion. It is hoped that all students will choose to participate in the discussion, and good class participation would raise a student's grade. Limits on the use of laptops or other electronic devices: To facilitate class discussion during sessions, laptops or other electronic devices should be off during sessions. Course Coordinator, and Administrative Questions and Issues: Any questions about the procedure for submitting memos, or about the administration of the course more generally, should be emailed to the course coordinator, Kathy Goldstein, at [email protected] . The course coordinator should also be copied on all emails to the instructors regarding the course.
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