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Empirical legal studies, Legal scholarship, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, JELS


Law and Society | Legal Writing and Research


People conduct legal scholarship for many different reasons. This Article focuses on the demand for and reaction to scholarship that helps inform litigants, policymakers, and society as a whole about how the legal system works. Law schools do little to train generations of lawyers in how to systematically assess the state of the legal system and the legal system's performance. Schools leave such assessments largely to self-interested advocates and to other disciplines. Self-interested advocates have less interest in objective assessment of the system than in pushing preferred policy agendas. Academic disciplines other than law have a distinct advantage in that some of them have trained many of their members in the methodologies needed to assess law-related programs. But nonlawyers have the distinct disadvantage of often not understanding legal doctrine or the state of the law. This sometimes leads to blunders that compromise empirical analyses. The need for legally sophisticated empirical analysts is clear.

Publication Citation

Published in: San Diego Law Review, vol. 41, no. 4 (November-December 2004).