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Taking Empirical Research Seriously

14 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2009 Last revised: 29 Nov 2009

Susan Saab Fortney

Texas A&M University School of Law


This essay considers how empirical research on the legal profession can bridge the divide between theory, social science, and the ethical practice of law. After providing background information on the growing field of empirical legal research, Part I of this essay focuses on developments in empirical legal research on lawyering. Part II discusses how collaboration with practitioners and other stakeholders can help researchers address challenges related to accessing data. Once data are obtained, Part III suggests how dissemination and sharing of research can link the academy and practicing lawyers. The conclusion urges a collaborative course of action for legal ethics scholars who want their research to be taken seriously by members of the academy, the practicing bar, regulators of the legal profession, and lawyer organizations.

Keywords: empirical research, legal profession

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Fortney, Susan Saab, Taking Empirical Research Seriously. Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, Vol. 22, 2009; Texas Tech Law School Research Paper No. 2009-05. Available at SSRN:

Susan Saab Fortney (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States
817-212-3902 (Phone)

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