Welcome to the IPLBSS

The Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Sciences promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching at the intersection of law and the social sciences. The College of Law faculty affiliated with the program bring perspectives from fields such as economics, psychology, and sociology to understand how legal systems affect the citizens they serve and how these legal systems can be improved. Professors Jen Robbennolt and Bob Lawless lead the program as co-directors.

This Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Sciences is the successor to the Illinois Program in Law & Economics and builds upon the tremendous success of Professor Thomas S. Ulen, a pioneer in the field of law and economics. Through Professor Ulen’s efforts, the College of Law came to the forefront of the law and economics movement, including hosting the first meeting of the American Law and Economics Association (ALEA) in 1991. Upon his retirement and with his encouragement, the program was rebranded to reflect how the study of law and economics had helped to inspire a more social scientific approach to legal study.  In Professor Ulen’s words:

"I believe that I discern in today’s legal scholarship a move toward a more scientific method like that prevailing in the other social, natural, physical, and biological sciences. If I am correct, then one should observe the beginnings of an elaboration of a core theory of legal subject matter and increasing attempts to engage in analytical empirical work designed to establish the truth of hypotheses about legal topics derived from that core theory. I think that both these trends are, in fact, distinctly observable in the study of law." (p. 909)

Ulen, Thomas S. (2002). “A Nobel Prize in Legal Science: Theory, Empirical Work, and the Scientific Method in the Study of Law,” University of Illinois Law Review, 2002:875-920.

The Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Sciences actively participates in the intellectual life of the College of Law both in teaching and research. Each academic year, the program sponsors a seminar course in which it invites leading academics to present their work in the classroom and interact with students during their time on campus. The program sponsors a working paper series, faculty workshops, and internal faculty seminars on cutting-edge books and scholarship. The Illinois Program in Law, Behavior, and Social Sciences also provides support for the research activities of its affiliated faculty through a permanent research assistant and funds for research travel. In addition, the program supports visiting international scholars who have come to the College of Law to learn interdisciplinary research methods applicable to legal studies.

Past Conferences

  1. Midwestern Law & Economics Association Annual Meeting
  2. Second Annual Empirical Patent Law Conference
  3. First Annual Empirical Patent Law Conference
  4. University of Illinois Law and Economics Conference (Ulen Conference)
  5. UNLV Conference on Psychology and Lawyering (co-sponsored by LBSS)