Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

Apart from their assigned mod courses, 1L students may only enroll in courses offered as 1L electives. A complete list of these courses can be found on the 1L Elective Listings page. 1L students must use the 1L class number listed on the course description when enrolling.

251.77 sec. 001 - Laws, Reputation, and Social Norms (Spring 2023)

Instructor: Roy Shapira  (view instructor's teaching evaluations - degree students only)
View all teaching evaluations for this course - degree students only

Units: 1
Grading Designation: Credit Only
Mode of Instruction: In-Person


Th 6:25 PM - 9:15 PM
Location: Law 134
On 2023-02-23

F 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Law 134
On 2023-02-24

F 2:10 PM - 5:10 PM
Location: uc law 134
On 2023-02-25

Sa 09:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: uc law 134
On 2023-02-24

Sa 2:10 PM - 5:10 PM
Location: Law 134
On 2023-02-25

Course Start: February 23, 2023
Course End: February 25, 2023
Class Number: 33627

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 39
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 39
As of: 08/24 11:03 PM

What incentives guide the behavior of consumers, businesspersons, and policymakers? In law school, we tend to focus on the threat of legal sanctions, and material rewards. But in reality, nonlegal sanctions such as reputational fallouts, and nonmaterial rewards such as esteem and pride, often are just as important. This course looks at the interactions between laws, reputation, and social norms, and how these interactions dictate behavior across a wide range of phenomena. In the process, we get to offer a fresh perspective on timely questions such as who writes online reviews and why; why consumers throw away perfectly functioning devices and purchase new ones instead; why some business companies donate to charity more than others; does it pay for business companies to pollute the environment, and if so why; and so on. Across all these topics and others, we will see how factoring in the role that reputation and social norms play alters the way we think about the right legal response to a given social problem. For those who are undecided and need further elaboration, consider in a bit more detail the following two issues that we will tackle in our first two sessions.

First, think about consumer complaints. The overwhelming majority of us (96%) do nothing when we are dissatisfied with a product or a service we purchased. But a small subset of consumers does something: they go to great lengths to write detailed negative online reviews, complain to the manager, enlist the help of journalists, and file lawsuits. Why are these consumers so active, even at personal cost? How do developments in big data and predictive analytics affect firms’ ability to target these active consumers? And what does it mean for the effectiveness of market discipline and the desirability of personalized contracts?

Staying within consumer markets, think next about the throwaway culture we live in. The average American uses her smartphone just two years before upgrading to a new one, and wea rs her new clothing item just five times before dumping it. The costs of such runaway consumerism are staggering. For consumers, it comes with frantically spending on new items, and constantly feeling regret and alienation because the things we own are never enough. For the environment, it comes with untenable levels of waste. The response by activists and policymakers has been emphasizing “the right to repair.” But giving consumers a legal right to repair will not do much to reduce consumer waste if consumers do not want to repair. Why do consumers decide to purchase new products, even when their old ones are functioning just fine? A large part of the answer has to do with status and signaling concerns. In other words, the problem is not functional product obsolescence but rather psychological product obsolescence. Can we leverage consumers’ status concerns and sellers’ reputational concerns to get out of this wasteful equilibrium?

Roy Shapira is an associate professor at Reichman University (IDC) in Israel. Shapira received his SJD and LLM degrees from Harvard Law School. Prior to joining academia, he worked as a litigator and a reputation consultant. This is also where his research lies, namely, at the intersection between reputation, regulation, and corporate governance. Shapira taught a course on these topics at Harvard Economics Department for six years, earning six Bok Awards (for teaching excellence), and has published on it extensively, including a book titled "Law and Reputation" (in 2020).

Exam Notes: (None) Class requires a series of papers, assignments, or presentations throughout the semester
Course Category: Business Law
This course is listed in the following sub-categories:
Public Law and Policy

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