Basic concepts of statistics, such as probability, causal inference, and statistical significance are becoming ever more important to understanding key areas of the law, including epidemiological evidence, civil rights and discrimination claims, products liability, environmental litigation, securities fraud, antitrust claims, police profiling of suspects, damages in commercial cases, and DNA evidence. Law professors are increasingly calling on their colleagues in the statistics department for help with creating empirical projects and analyzing the data gathered during such projects. Conversely, statistics professors have drawn on the expertise of law professors to design studies useful to understanding the effects of diverse laws, including most recently voter ID laws. In recognition of this important connection between the two fields, SMU professors organized and SMU sponsored an interdisciplinary seminar to explore potential areas for research collaboration between legal scholars and statistics scientists, as well as with related social science disciplines.
This webpage is one of the products of the seminar and provides resources for research, teaching, and learning about law and statistics.
Law and Statistics Fellows:
Dedman School of Law
Statistics, Dedman College
The SMU Statistics Consulting Center assists scholars, businesses, and organizations by applying statistical expertise to a variety of data analytics projects. Statistical consulting is also available to faculty, staff and graduate students by SMU's Office of Information Technology (OIT) - ATS. Advising on modeling directions, analyzing data, creating presentation quality graphical displays and assistance in documenting the results are provided. In addition, Statistical consulting is available for the following:
- Faculty grant proposals with a research design component
- Staff projects requiring data analysis or gathering
- Graduate Students needing guidance for the statistical analysis portion of their dissertation
Development, troubleshooting and support for Microsoft Access databases and FileMaker databases are available by request through SMU OIT.
Finally, the Center for Scientific Computation provides education and training focused on high-performance computing algorithms, software, and hardware.
Links for law-related data sets and statistical compilations, organized by legal topics.
The following provide collaboration tools and file sharing/storage services for the SMU Campus. Brief descriptions of each tool can be found here with detailed links below.
Programs & Software:
SMU licenses many research software applications for use by portions of the SMU Community. These applications include the following: SAS, SPSS, SPLUS, R, Stata, HLM, Eviews, Mathematica, MatLab, Maple, GAMS, NAG, ArcView, Xwin-32, and Putty. To request licensing information or software installation, please contact the IT Help Desk.
If you are interested in doing basic statistical computing, such as:
• Descriptive statistics, including mean, median, mode, variances, ranges, and basic analyses of data
• Graphs, charts, and tables
• Database management, including data from surveys and experiments
If you are interested in doing more advanced statistical computing, such as:
• Modeling, including simple modeling, bivariate or multivariate regression, logistic regression, or more complicated methods
• Time series or panel data analysis
• Analysis of problem prone data, including data from surveys, survival analysis in experiments, or datasets with missing data
• Database management, when the data structure is complex or need extensive cleaning and recoding
Faculty, Staff and Students can receive a discount on STATA by using their SMU Email address at varsitybuys.com.
Online resources for working with STATA are also available. For a comprehensive guide, visit:
• STATA Resources and Support
Contains a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, technical support, news and links to publications, forums and additional support. Published by STATA Press.
• STATA Online Seminars and Classes
Includes comprehensive tutorials for Stata (version 12 and earlier). It also includes manuals on additional software packages. Published by UCLA Consulting Services.
SAS and SAS JMP:
SMU has acquired a site license for SAS Foundation and SAS JMP Professional for all faculty, staff and students. The software is available for download on any personal Windows and Linux machines for academic use.
Please note: students and any Mac OS users of SAS Foundation also have access to SAS without installing the software on their local machine. Simply login to apps.smu.edu.
A Web-based enterprise data collection and analysis product for market research, customer insights, employee performance, event registration, institutional assessment, alumni outreach, academic research, and much more. Through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, and award-winning services and support. Qualtrics enables both professional and DIY researchers at SMU to conduct quantitative research quickly and easily.
A qualitative research software package that comes with its own programming language for analyzing codes, categories, and text and provides tools for the graphic representation of the relationship between them. It provides multidimensional matrix analysis of data categories for theory building. (View online tutorials)
• Graphics in R
A guide to doing beginning and advanced graphics in R.
• Introduction to Statistical Computing in R
A guide, written by John Fox, to doing statistical computing in R.
• Introductory Statistics in R
A well-written guide to using R to do basic statistics.
• R Introduction in PDF form
A PDF of a power point of an introduction to R. Detailed and well-written.
• The R Foundation
The official website for R; click on "Mailing Lists" on the left hand side to sign up for the list-serves for R. The R "help" list-serve is high traffic, but necessary if R is going to be your statistical package of choice.
• Time Series in R
Code for doing time series and cross-sectional analysis in R.
• Tutorial for R
An introductory tutorial to R, including step-by-step functions.
• UCLA's Academic Computing R Assistance
Extensive assistance for R from UCLA's Academic Computing Services. Includes links to power points, movies, and MP3s about using R.
• Wikipedia: R
A user-written guide to working in R.
Converting Between Programs:
• STAT-TRANSFER A program that allows the user to convert datafiles from one statistical computing format to another.
• A SAS User's Guide to Stata A useful guide to converting from using SAS to using STATA.
• Applied Econometrics: Various Programs Online guides to doing applied econometrics in a variety of statistical computing programs.
Authors interested in publishing empirical legal scholarship have many potential avenues, in both traditional law reviews and peer-reviewed academic journals. For a list of potential avenues, click the link above.
Conferences and Workshops
This link serves as a source of information for faculty, researchers and graduate students who are seeking funding for empirical research. We provide helpful links to useful sources of grant information. The link is NOT meant to supplant those dedicated sources, whose focus is providing ongoing, thorough, and accurate grant information, but to help you find those sources.
Access to Empirical Legal Scholarship at Southern Methodist University
SMU Scholar is a service of Southern Methodist University's Central University Libraries. Its purpose is to collect and to make accessible to a global audience the research and scholarly output of university researchers and scholars.
Research Centers at SMU
The Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation is a research-focused academic center exploring how law and policy affect scientific research and discovery as well as the development and commercialization of new technologies.
The Deason Family Criminal Justice Reform Center is an academic center where scholars undertake independent research and develop educational opportunities on topics such as the causes of wrongful convictions and over-incarceration, and ensuring the fair and ethical treatment of individuals at all stages of the criminal justice process.
Empirical Legal Research: Key Books & Articles
Access to Empirical Legal Research Websites and Blogs
Duke Law Empirical Research Support
Georgetown Law Statistics and Empirical Legal Studies Research Guide
Cornell Law Research Methods
UCLA Law Empirical Research Group
Berkeley Law Empirical Legal Studies (BELS)
Harvard Law Empirical Research Services
Fordham Law Empirical Research
Empirical Legal Studies Blog
Courses at SMU
LAW7220 - Law and Statistics
Introduces students to the role of statistics in litigation and legal policy. In particular, after introducing basic concepts in statistics (with a focus on concepts rather than techniques), it examines, first, how scholars and legal decision-makers use data and statistics to inform policy regarding major areas of the law, such as torts, property, criminal law, and, second how statistics is and can be used in the courts to prove claims and improve legal outcomes. Addresses questions such as what does it mean to have accuracy in the law? How can methods of estimation in the sciences be applied to attain better legal outcomes? And how can scholars, courts, and policy makers use data to analyze and improve the law?
Online Training Resources
UCLA's Statistical Computing Services: An extensive online training library, containing PowerPoints, movies, and MP3s. The first two-thirds of the classes focus on statistical computing, while the last third focus on specific statistical techniques, such as longitudinal analysis and survey data analysis.
MIT's OpenCourse Ware: Extensive resources from MIT's classes, including lecture notes, syllabi, and videos of classes and lectures.
ICPSR's Teaching Modules: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research's collection of data-focused instructional modules. Many examples use ICPSR's data as examples for instruction about a specific method or dataset.
Harvard's Program on Survey Research: Various sources for survey research at Harvard.
UCI Center for Assessment and Applied Research: A detailed guide to all parts of survey research, including articles, questions, sampling, and analysis.
Iowa State's Nine Step Survey Process: A nine step guide to writing, fielding and analyzing a survey.
Writing with Statistics: An online instruction manual from the OWL at Purdue on how to write with statistics.