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Lee Epstein

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law and Political Science

Lee Epstein is the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research and teaching interests center on law and legal institutions, especially the behavior of judges.

Professor Epstein is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. She also serves as Co-Director of the Center for Empirical Research in the Law and Principal Investigator of the U.S. Supreme Court Database. In 2021 (through 2025), she will be a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hebrew University and will continue as a Visiting Professor at the University of Bergen in Norway

A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation, Epstein has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles and essays and 18 books, including The Behavior of Federal Judges, with William M. Landes & Richard A. Posner (Harvard University Press) and An Introduction to Empirical Legal Research, with Andrew D. Martin (Oxford University Press). She is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook on Judicial Behaviour (with Gunnar Grendstad, Urska Sadl, & Keren Weinshall). Professor Epstein’s empirical research is frequently cited in the New York Times, among other news media.

Awards include the Pritchett Award for the Best Book on Law and Courts and the Lasting Contribution Award for research “that has made a lasting impression on the field of law and courts” for The Choices Justice Make (with Jack Knight); the Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association for the Constitutional Law for a Changing America series; the Lifetime Achievement Award, also from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.

Professor Epstein teaches courses on constitutional law, judicial behavior, the U.S. Supreme Court, and research design and methods. She is a recipient of Northwestern University School of Law’s Outstanding First-Year Course Professor Award. At Washington University she was named Professor of the Year by the Undergraduate Political Science Association and received a Faculty of the Year Award from the Student Union. She also received Washington University’s Alumni Board of Governors Distinguished Faculty Award and the Arthur Holly Compton Faculty Achievement Award.

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  • Education
    • B.A. with high honors, Emory University (Political Science and Sociology), 1980
    • M.A., Emory University, 1982
    • Ph.D., Emory University, 1983
  • Courses
    • Constitutional Law
    • Judicial Behavior
    • The Roberts Court
  • Areas of Expertise
    • Constitutional Law
    • Judicial Behavior
    • Empirical Legal Research
  • Publications


  • Activity and Affiliations
    • Visiting Scholar, Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica (Taiwan)
    • George S. Parthemos Visiting Scholar, University of Georgia
    • Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago
    • Visiting Professor, Law & Comparative Politics, University of Bergen
    • Distinguished Affiliated Professor, Center for Empirical Legal Studies, Hebrew University
  • Honors and Awards
    • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    • Elected Fellow, American Academy of Political and Social Science
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association
    • John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (Law)
    • Phi Beta Kappa Scholar Visiting Scholar
    • Law & Courts Service Award, Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association
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