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Empirical Legal Research

A Guidance Book for Lawyers, Legislators and Regulators Frans L. Leeuw, Professor of Law, Public Policy and Social Science Research, Maastricht University; Faculty of Law and Director, Security and Justice Research Center (WODC), the Hague with Hans Schmeets, Professor in Social Statistics, Maastricht University and Senior Researcher, Statistics Netherlands, the Netherlands
Empirical Legal Research describes how to investigate the roles of legislation, regulation, legal policies and other legal arrangements at play in society. It is invaluable as a guide to legal scholars, practitioners and students on how to do empirical legal research, covering history, methods, evidence, growth of knowledge and links with normativity. This multidisciplinary approach combines insights and approaches from different social sciences, evaluation studies, Big Data analytics and empirically informed ethics. The book discusses the tensions between the normative character of law and legal issues and the descriptive and causal character of empirical legal research, and suggests ways to help handle this seeming disconnect.
Extent: 328 pp
Hardback Price: $135.00 Web: $121.50
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 978 1 78254 939 0
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $50.00 Web: $40.00
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78254 940 6
Availability: In Stock
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  • Law - Academic
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  • Research Methods in Law
  • Research Methods
  • Research Methods in Law
  • Research Methods
Empirical Legal Research describes how to investigate the roles of legislation, regulation, legal policies and other legal arrangements at play in society. It is invaluable as a guide to legal scholars, practitioners and students on how to do empirical legal research, covering history, methods, evidence, growth of knowledge and links with normativity. This multidisciplinary approach combines insights and approaches from different social sciences, evaluation studies, Big Data analytics and empirically informed ethics.

The authors present an overview of the roots of this blossoming interdisciplinary domain, going back to legal realism, the fields of law, economics and the social sciences, and also to civilology and evaluation studies. The book addresses not only data analysis and statistics, but also how to formulate adequate research problems, to use (and test) different types of theories (explanatory and intervention theories) and to apply new forms of literature research to the field of law such as the systematic, rapid and realist reviews and synthesis studies. The choice and architecture of research designs, the collection of data, including Big Data, and how to analyze and visualize data are also covered. The book discusses the tensions between the normative character of law and legal issues and the descriptive and causal character of empirical legal research, and suggests ways to help handle this seeming disconnect.

This comprehensive guide is vital reading for law practitioners as well as for students and researchers dealing with regulation, legislation and other legal arrangements.
‘Introductory books on ELR are rare, so the arrival of Empirical Legal Research is a welcome addition to this small, yet growing, market. This ambitious project tackles the past, present, and future of ELR in an encompassing guide for doing empirical research. The authors clearly believe that knowledge of ELR will help legal practitioners and policymakers better understand all of the implications of the various forms of evidence presented to them on a daily basis. In turn, this will help them make better decisions for themselves, their colleagues, and society as a whole.’
– Alexander J. Jakubow, Law Library Journal

‘In 1788 John Adams created a sublime ambition for all nations – “a government of laws and not of men”. In the intervening years we have come to learn that legislation itself works through the interpretations of the many men and women who work on the inside and the outside of the law. Effective regulation thus depends not only on scrupulous legal analysis, with its appeal to precedent, conceptual clarity and argumentation, but also on sound empirical research, which often reveals diversity in implementation, enforcement and observance of the law in practice. In this outstanding, worldly-wise book Leeuw and Schmeets demonstrate how to bridge the gap between the letter and the delivery of the law. It is packed with examples, cases and illustrations that will have international appeal. I recommend it to students and practitioners engaged across all domains of legislation and regulation.’
– Ray Pawson, University of Leeds, UK

‘In a world increasingly seeking laws that are evidence-based, this book provides a much needed and original approach to empirical legal studies. The book masterfully shows how empirical work is relevant to the law and offers highly accessible guidance on how to do empirical work in law. This book makes indispensable reading for academics, policymakers and practitioners alike.’
– Jan M. Smits, Maastricht University, the Netherlands

‘This thoughtful book provides an excellent guide for lawyers and legislators to empirical research which assumes increasing importance in an evidence-based political and legal economy. Set in the context of a history of empirical research, the authors offer a comprehensive and accessible account of qualitative and quantitative methods, data collection and theory-building infused with practical examples. I strongly recommend this intelligent and informative book.’
– Mike McConville, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Contents: 1. Introducing Empirical Legal Research and Structure of the Book 2. Roots of Empirical Legal Research: A Concise History in 201/4 Pages 3. Research Problems 4. Theories and Empirical Legal Research 5. Research Reviews and Syntheses 6. Research Designs: Raisons D’etre, Examples and Criteria 7. Data Collection Methods 8. Analyzing and Visualizing Quantitative and Qualitative Data 9. Transferring Research Results to Legal Professionals, Utilization and the Fact-Value Dichotomy 10. Empirical Legal Research. Booming Business and Growth of Knowledge Index