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Trends in Law

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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3 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    The Google feature really cannot be used for most of the points you are trying to make, because it searches a wide range of books, not just law books. Words like “contract” are much more likely to appear in civilian discourse, while “promissory estoppel” is relegated to the arcane ramblings of lawyers. There simply cannot be any comparison. The same is true of “rights” versus “duties,” or “treaty” versus “human rights,” both of which have popular meanings that are dramatically different from the specific meanings you reference in this post. The “First Amendment” is popular, but it’s also probably the only amendment 90% of Americans can name without looking it up. A similar point is true for “negligence.” To do this kind of comparison, you would have to find a way to control a countless number of variables, including filtering out layperson writings. Perhaps running an analysis on just law review articles, or briefs filed in the United States Courts of Appeal.

  2. Neal Goldfarb says:

    Another, more fundamental, problem is that the frequencies for single words like “contract” and “property” include uses of the words in all their various senses. So for example, the chart for “contract” includes uses like “contract a fever” and “contract in size,” as well as misspellings of “contact.”

  3. Unsurprisingly, Due Process peaks in the late 1970s. Somewhat more surprisingly, the trend is pretty much straight down ever since.

    I wonder, though, given that more books are published every year if part of the effect is that the number of non-law books is just growing more quickly than law-related books?

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