The impact of "empirical facts" on legal scholarship and legal research training
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Lawyers have traditionally viewed law as a closed system, and doctrinal research has been the research methodology used most widely in the profession. This reflects traditional concepts of legal reasoning. There is a wealth of reliable and valid social science data available to lawyers and judges. Judges in fact often refer to general facts about the world, society, institutions and human behaviour ("empirical facts"). Legal education needs to prepare our students for this broader legal context. This paper examines how "empirical facts" are used in Australian and other common law courts. Specifically, the paper argues that there is a need for enhanced training in non-doctrinal research methodologies across the law school curriculum. This should encompass a broad introduction to social science methods, with more attention being paid to a cross-section of methodologies such as content analysis, comparative law and surveys that are best applied to law.
The Law Teacher
© 2009 Routledge. This is an electronic version of an article published in The Law Teacher Volume 43, Issue 2 July 2009, pages 153 - 178. The Law Teacher is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com with the open URL of your article.
Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified