Hillel J. Bavli

Headshot of Hillel J. Bavli, associate professor of law at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Associate Professor of Law

Full-time faculty





Hillel J. Bavli is an Associate Professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law. His teaching and scholarship interests are primarily in the fields of evidence and torts, and he is particularly interested in applications of statistics to law.

Professor Bavli's current work includes a book on character evidence (under contract with Cambridge University Press) and a large randomized experiment. His scholarship has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Legal Studies and Law, Probability & Risk, as well as in law reviews such as the Stanford Law ReviewIowa Law Review, Boston College Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review. He also serves on various panels and committees related to his areas of scholarship. His recent service includes, for example, memberships on the American Statistical Association Advisory Committee on Forensic Science, the AALS Section on Evidence Executive Committee, and a government-sponsored panel organized to review and improve proposed standards related to DNA testimony.

An experienced litigation attorney, Professor Bavli has practiced in the fields of complex commercial litigation, antitrust law, and criminal law, most recently at the firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. Prior to joining SMU’s faculty, he also designed and taught a seminar course on the economic analysis of law in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He received numerous awards for distinction in teaching for the course.

Professor Bavli received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and his Ph.D. in Statistics in Law and Government from Harvard University. He also holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, an A.M. in Statistics from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Economics from Boston University. He completed a Fulbright Fellowship, studying game theory, in Jerusalem, Israel, as well as short-term clerkships at the Supreme Court of India and the Supreme Court of Rwanda. He also held a fellowship at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and a visiting fellowship at the Yale Law School Center for Private Law.

Area of expertise

  • Evidence
  • Torts
  • Procedure
  • Law and Statistics
  • Law and Economics


B.A., Boston University
J.D., Fordham University School of Law
LL.M., Harvard Law School
A.M., Harvard University
Ph.D., Harvard University


Law and Statistics


TRUTH AND CHARACTER: PLAYING THE ODDS IN LIFE AND LAW (under contract with Cambridge University Press)


Stereotypes as Evidence, 77 Stanford Law Review (forthcoming 2025)

Correcting Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)(2) to Clarify the Inadmissibility of Character Evidence, 92 Fordham Law Review (forthcoming 2024)

The Incongruence Principle of Evidence, 99 Indiana Law Journal 245 (2023)

Character Evidence as a Conduit for Implicit Bias, 56 UC Davis Law Review 1019 (2023)
SSRN | SMU Repository

An Objective-Chance Exception to the Rule Against Character Evidence, 74 Alabama Law Review 121 (2022)
SSRN | SMU Repository

An Aggregation Theory of Character Evidence, 51 Journal of Legal Studies 39 (2022)
SSRN (Preprint) | The University of Chicago Press (Published version)

Credibility in Empirical Legal Analysis, 87 Brooklyn Law Review 501 (2022)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Causation in Civil Rights Legislation, 73 Alabama Law Review 159 (2021)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Cause and Effect in Antidiscrimination Law, 106 Iowa Law Review 483 (2021)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Counterfactual Causation, 51 Arizona State Law Journal 879 (2019)
SSRN | SMU Repository

The Effects of Comparable-Case Guidance on Awards for Pain and Suffering and Punitive Damages: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial, 37 Yale Law & Policy Review 405 (2019) (with Reagan Mozer)
SSRN | SMU Repository

The Admissibility of Sampling Evidence to Prove Individual Damages in Class Actions, 59 Boston College Law Review 655 (2018) (with John K. Felter)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Shrinkage Estimation in the Adjudication of Civil Damage Claims, 13(2) Review of Law & Economics 1 (2017) (with Yang Chen)
SMU Repository

The Logic of Comparable-Case Guidance in the Determination of Awards for Pain and Suffering and Punitive Damages, 85 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1 (2017)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Sampling and Reliability in Class Action Litigation, 2016 Cardozo Law Review De Novo 207 (2016)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Reductive Sampling: A Framework for Victim Participation and the Reparations Phase of the ICC Trial, 10 Harvard Africa Policy Journal 60 (2015)

Aggregating for Accuracy: A Closer Look at Sampling and Accuracy in Class Action Litigation, 14 Law, Probability & Risk 67 (2015)
SSRN | SMU Repository