Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

2006 VANDERBILT LAW REVIEW Symposium Empirical Legal Scholarship

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

2006 VANDERBILT LAW REVIEW Symposium Empirical Legal Scholarship

Article excerpt

There often seems to be a substantial gap between the world of the legal academic and that of the practitioner or policymaker. Most articles in major legal periodicals appear to be far more concerned with abstract theory and doctrine then with how legal rules and institutions actually shape what happens both inside and outside the courtroom. However, members of the legal academy are increasingly turning to empirical research methods in their academic work, particularly those methods that employ rigorous statistical techniques to test positive theories of laws or legal institutions.

This is not to say that empirical research in law is a completely new phenomenon; a significant portion of law review articles make at least some qualitative observations about how the law effects human and institutional behavior, and over the years law professors have employed statistical studies to illuminate a variety of issues. Nonetheless, while the mode of analysis itself may not be new, the legal academy appears to be increasingly cognizant of the need to employ empirical analysis to buttress their normative and descriptive claims. …

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