Making Doctrinal Work More Rigorous: Lessons from Systematic Reviews
22 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016 Last revised: 22 May 2017
Date Written: May 18, 2017
Legal scholars, lawyers, and judges frequently make positive claims about the state of legal doctrine. Yet despite the profligate citation norms of legal writing, these claims are often supported in a somewhat imprecise way – where the exact evidence is unclear or difficult for others to probe or falsify. In response to similar issues, other disciplines have developed methodological standards for conducting “systematic reviews” that summarize the state of knowledge on a given subject. In this essay we argue that methods for performing systematic reviews that are specifically tailored to legal analysis should be developed. We propose a simple four-step process that could be used whenever someone is trying to make objective claims about the state of legal doctrine, and illustrate the value of this method by applying it to doctrinal claims that have been made in recent legal scholarship.
Keywords: Legal scholarship, Systematic Reviews, Doctrinal Analysis, Best Practices, Restatements
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation