1 / 10

Sharon Witherspoon Deputy Director

Building Capacity for Empirical Legal Research: Some questions about the links between methods and subjects. Sharon Witherspoon Deputy Director. The Nuffield Foundation. Founded in 1943 Concerned initially with science and the then new field of academic social sciences

Download Presentation

Sharon Witherspoon Deputy Director

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. Content is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only. Download presentation by click this link. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server. During download, if you can't get a presentation, the file might be deleted by the publisher.


Presentation Transcript

  1. Building Capacity for Empirical Legal Research:Some questions about the links between methods and subjects Sharon Witherspoon Deputy Director

  2. The Nuffield Foundation • Founded in 1943 • Concerned initially with science and the then new field of academic social sciences • Investment in infrastructure, including human capital

  3. Nuffield Inquiry into Empirical Research in Law • Foundation’s long-standing interest in law and legal research, from the beginning but particularly from late 1960s • Inquiry started in 2005 • Involved • Academics: both academic lawyers and non-lawyers • Policy makers • Strategic practitioners: judges, lawyers, court managers • Both civil law (administrative law, family law, etc) and criminal law

  4. Diagnosis and Understanding • Is there a problem? • Why does it matter? • What are the causes? • What are the solutions?

  5. What is the problem? • Reducing capacity to undertake empirical research on law (ERL) • Cohort of experienced researchers will retire in next decade • Sparse new generation • Discipline under threat

  6. What are the causes? • Law in the academy: • Professional training • Legal scholarship / ‘legal reasoning’ • Absence of critical mass • Social science • General decline in empirical research? • General decline in quantitative training? • Political science and sociology less ‘institutional’ (than elsewhere?) • Decline of interest in power and social structural forces (as against ‘culture’) • Apprehension about technicality of law • General problems: • RAE and its effects on incentives • Inter-disciplinary work (also RAE)

  7. What are the solutions? • No quick fix: ‘market failure’ • Sustained interventions at various points: • Undergraduate course materials for law and social sciences • Summer schools, master’s cross-disciplinary training • Post-graduate and PhD • CRUCIAL: links between methods and substantive issues • Hence, centres doing substantive research

  8. Reasons for choosing to link methods and substance: • Methods innovation linked to exciting intellectual questions • Normative questions of law linked to empirical questions of ‘what is’ • Different disciplines attracted • Economics: behaviours and counterfactuals • Psychology: motivations, experiments • Politics and Sociology: linking structures and individual actions and decisions • Linking cutting edge substantive issues with TRAINING • Cross-disciplinary (law and social sciences) • Critical mass younger people: Masters, PhDs, Post-docs

  9. Preponderance of doctrinal legal research Undergraduates Taught doctrinal research and limited exposure to empirical work Appointment & Mid-career Teaching core subjects Continue pattern of doctrinal research Postgraduates Doctrinal or theoretical work. No training in empirical methods. Shortage of supervisors to deal with empirical projects. Most exit topractice and never return Seniorpractitioners andjudiciary Model of Legal Education and ScholarshipWhere to break in?

More Related