Socio-Legal Studies, Law Schools, and Legal and Social Theory

12 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2012 Last revised: 8 Jan 2024

See all articles by Roger Cotterrell

Roger Cotterrell

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: September 30, 2012


This paper argues initially that socio-legal studies are important for legal education and juristic inquiry, and it outlines problems facing social studies of law in law schools. It claims that legal theory is necessary for practical legal studies but that legal philosophy's purportedly timeless theories about the nature of law have largely failed to meet this need. They have often been relatively unconcerned with social variation and historical change and so have not adequately reflected the varieties of possible legal experience. Juristic theory must be sociologically informed. But, equally, socio-legal studies must examine the nature of law as ideas as well as focusing on behaviour in legal contexts. Legal ideas need sociological interpretation. Social theory is essential to inform legal inquiries, and the long tradition of social theories of law is important. Alongside recent theories, the classics of socio-legal theory give deep perspective for studies of present-day law in society.

Keywords: legal education, socio-legal studies, legal philosophy, sociology of law, social theory

Suggested Citation

Cotterrell, Roger, Socio-Legal Studies, Law Schools, and Legal and Social Theory (September 30, 2012). Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 126/2012., Available at SSRN:

Roger Cotterrell (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )

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