Over the past two decades, empirical legal studies (ELS) has become an increasingly hot research and teaching field in law schools. ELS involves the use of data and statistics to analyze and understand the law, predict judicial behavior, and explore the interactions of law and economics. With its deep connection to the social sciences, ELS thus requires a very different set of skills and competencies from the strongly humanistic orientation of traditional legal studies.
But as empirical analysis becomes increasingly relevant to the study and practice of law, legal information professionals in all settings can benefit from a basic familiarity with the field and with the types of questions to which it applies.
This short piece is designed to provide law librarians who have no previous experience with ELS with a lay of the land and some of the basic resources for newcomers to the field. It is based on my work as a practicum student at the University of Chicago’s D’Angelo Law Library, where I worked on creating finding aids and research guides for ELS research. Continue reading Empirical Legal Studies: A Brief Overview