Disciplinary Legal Empiricism

26 Pages Posted: 18 May 2015 Last revised: 10 Jun 2015

Lynn M. LoPucki

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

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Date Written: May 17, 2015

Abstract

Disciplines tend to develop their own empirical methods. This article reports on a study of one hundred and twenty empirical legal studies published in the non-peer-review leading law reviews and in the peer-review Journal of Empirical Legal Studies ("JELS"). The study reveals four important categories of differences between disciplinary legal empiricism, defined as legal empiricism conducted by persons holding Ph.D. degrees (whether or not they also hold law degrees), and native legal empiricism, defined as legal empiricism conducted by persons holding only law degrees. First, the study found that Ph.D.s and J.D.-Ph.D.s collaborate more than J.D.s, but the collaboration is largely among the Ph.D. holders themselves. Second, JELS appeared to value methodological expertise over legal expertise. Only 15% of the JELS articles had no author holding a Ph.D., while 35% had no author holding a J.D. Third, the J.D.s were more likely to draw their data from published sources, while Ph.D.s and J.D.-Ph.D.s were more likely to draw their data from prior research, survey, or experiment. Lastly, the J.D.s were almost twice as likely to code their own data. These differences are important because law schools are rapidly hiring J.D.-Ph.D.s in an effort to increase the quantity and quality of legal empiricism. The study concludes that law school Ph.D. hiring is unlikely to achieve large increases in collaboration between Ph.D.s and J.D.s. It also concludes that the reduction in coding resulting from the hiring of more J.D.-Ph.D.s will escalate legal empiricism’s methodological sophistication while reducing its legal sophistication.

Keywords: empiricism, law schools, coding, collaboration, Ph.D.s, J.D.-Ph.D.s, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies

Suggested Citation

LoPucki, Lynn M., Disciplinary Legal Empiricism (May 17, 2015). UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2607129 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2607129

Lynn M. LoPucki (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
(310) 794-5722 (Phone)

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