What Empirical Legal Scholars Do Best
17 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2015 Last revised: 21 May 2015
Date Written: March 23, 2015
This Essay, prepared for the symposium honoring the work of Professor Bill Whitford, makes the claim that empirical legal scholars have strengths as compared to scholars from other disciplines who also do socio-legal scholarship. Most significantly, empirical legal scholars have an in-depth knowledge of fine-grained institutional detail that can unlock knowledge that otherwise might remain hidden – Whitford’s work provides several examples. Empirical legal scholars also will tend to write about the legal system as such, helping us understand how the legal system works. Empirical legal scholars identify topics others might miss and often write scholarship that connects with policy makers. The claim here is not that empirical legal scholars are somehow “better” – indeed empirical legal scholars also have weaknesses. Rather, the claim is only that empirical legal scholars produce scholarship that is different, scholarship that expands our knowledge of how the world works, and hence scholarship that is useful.
Keywords: empirical legal studies, bankruptcy
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation