In Spring quarter 2016 the Economic Analysis of Law (Econ 408) course was introduced as a response to the vast number of economics students interested in law. The course aims to show how economic principles and the economic way of thinking can be applied in many areas of law, with the hope of assisting students as they consider the many available career paths with an economics degree.
One such economics student found this course very helpful in deciding her next steps in life. Rhena Brinkmann knew that her academic career would not end with a BA, but was unsure of which type of graduate school she would like to pursue. Law school was always one of the paths she was interested in, but her experience taking Econ 408 helped to finalize her decision. Rhena was recently accepted to the UW Law School so she was a great candidate to delve a little deeper into why a student should take this course. She provided her feedback on the course:
Q: Was your decision to study law shaped by your experience in Economic Analysis of Law?
A: I was already thinking about law school before I took Economic Analysis of the law, but the course helped cement my conviction that law was a field that I could enjoy and be successful at.
One of the key contributing factors was the lecturers themselves, who were lawyers, analysts, business executives... [The] intensive discussions, deeply rooted in logic gave me reason to believe that I was well-suited to the field.
Q: How do you think your background in economics will help you in law school?
A: Economics is built upon foundations of logic and rationality, and is constantly seeking to quantify human behavior. Law is not so different. There are usually fewer numbers and calculations in law, but the analytical mindset is similar, and the “if X is present, then Y MAY happen, or Z MUST happen” logic is also familiar.
Q: What was your largest take-away from Economic Analysis of Law?
A: I think that my largest take-away from the class was that law requires a certain kind of mind to be successful. There are certain mindsets that fail in the field – just as there are people who would fail at being a teacher, or a doctor, no matter how hard they studied. That is why the LSAT exists; if you perform poorly on the LSAT, you should probably not be attending law school. Many of the guest lecturers from the class clearly demonstrated legal mindsets, and put the students through a trial run of law school which demanded the same kind of performance.
Q: Do you think the course should be highly encouraged for all economics students looking to study law?
A: I would agree that the course should be encouraged for Econ majors who are thinking about law, as I believe it offers a microcosm of law school that can be extremely valuable in determining whether a legal career is the correct choice. As previously stated, a great deal of legal work revolves around technical definitions and debating parameters, and the class does not shy away from that. Many class sessions forced students to adjust their patterns of thinking away from the numerical contours of economics and open their minds to the more fluid dynamics of law and language. That can be a valuable eye-opener to a student who is on the fence or unsure if they are the correct fit for the field.
Q: Is there anything else you want to tell me about your experience in Economic Analysis of Law?
A: The class caused me to pay more attention to the language that politicians, businesses, and other official groups use, and caused me to think more critically about the parameters of situations that I encounter in my everyday life. In today’s world, being aware of the implications of language is invaluable. I am glad that I had the opportunity to have my eyes opened.
Students interested in the course are encouraged to visit the course page for prerequisite requirements and other details. The course will be offered during Spring quarter and is taught by Visiting Lecturer, Christina Tapia.