Thursday, September 8, 2022
David A. Hyman (Georgetown), Jing Liu (East China University) & Joshua C. Teitelbaum (Georgetown; Google Scholar), Does the 1L Curriculum Make a Difference?:
Georgetown Law’s Curriculum B (also known as Section 3) offers a unique opportunity to study an alternative 1L curriculum. The standard 1L curriculum has been around for decades and is still offered at the vast majority of U.S. law schools. Leaders in the legal academy often talk about experimenting with the 1L curriculum, but hardly anyone does it. Georgetown Law has. We study whether Georgetown’s Curriculum B yields measurable differences in student outcomes. Our empirical design leverages the fact that enrollment in Curriculum B is done by lottery when it is oversubscribed—meaning our study is effectively a randomized controlled trial. We measure treatment effects of Curriculum B by comparing outcomes of students who received the treatment (Curriculum B) with outcomes of students who received the placebo (Curriculum A) but wanted the treatment.
Because students in both the treatment and control groups elected to enroll in Curriculum B, our empirical design overcomes the issue of selection bias. If we were to naïvely compare outcomes of students who took Curriculum B with those of students who took Curriculum A, our results would confound treatment and selection effects. By limiting our attention to students who elected to enroll in Curriculum B, we are able to isolate Curriculum B’s treatment effects.