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David Hoffman joins Penn Law faculty

January 09, 2017

David A. Hoffman, an expert in contracts, law and psychology, and empirical legal studies, and most recently Temple University’s Murray H. Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law, has joined the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s faculty, effective in January.

Hoffman’s scholarship uses observational and experimental data to illuminate the relationship between people’s behavior and the law. He has shown how the perceived benefits and risks of political demonstrations are contingent on people’s values and how individuals’ values influence their perceptions of fact in civil rights cases. His work has also explored the dispute resolution system using data from court dockets and investigated the area of moral psychology, with a particular emphasis on contract law.

“We are proud to welcome David Hoffman to the Law School,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the Law School and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law. “His work connects disciplines and deepens our understanding of how people make decisions and enter binding agreements while, at the same time, illuminating new areas of legal study. In addition, David’s appointment expands our faculty’s considerable expertise in contracts and business law.”

“I am incredibly excited to come to Penn Law,” said Hoffman. “I’ve had the pleasure of working closely on research with faculty members here, and I know that the Law School fosters collaboration and collegiality among the entire community.”

Hoffman’s scholarship includes the Harvard Law Review article “Whose Eyes are You Going to Believe? Scott v. Harris and the Perils of Cognitive Illiberalism,” co-authored with Dan M. Kahan and Donald Braman, which examines how judges needlessly invest the law with culturally partisan overtones — detracting from the law’s legitimacy — when they fail to examine their own assumptions. His latest article, “From Promise to Form: How Contracting Online Changes Consumers,” is forthcoming in the New York University Law Review and investigates how millennials’ views of contracting may be infused by their digital experiences.

Hoffman is a member of Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project, a group of scholars interested in studying how cultural values shape public risk perceptions and related policy beliefs. Last year, Hoffman served as a visiting professor at Penn Law, where he taught courses on contracts, corporations, and advanced topics in contract law.

Before joining the faculty at Temple, Hoffman was a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and a law clerk for Judge Norma L. Shapiro of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He earned his JD from Harvard Law School and a BA in archaeology and history from Yale University. He was born and raised in Philadelphia area, where he currently lives with his wife and two young children.