New Legal Realism: Empirical Law and Society

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Seeking to develop a rigorous, genuinely interdisciplinary approach to the empirical study of law.
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Working Groups

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Building a real dialogue between law and social science

The core model for a New Legal Realist working group is a to bring together a small group of scholars from diverse disciplines who are interested in understanding a similar problem or area of law through an empirical lens. Ideally, the group will meet repeatedly over time, so that its members can develop a common vocabulary. In addition, the group works to analyze and specify the differences in epistemology, explanatory paradigms, and overarching goals of their respective disciplines. The hope is not that these differences will be entirely obliterated, but that legal and social science scholars in the group will come to a more analytically sophisticated understanding of how they can best translate among their differing approaches - and of where, in fact, they cannot achieve translation.

This model presupposes a relatively small and stable group of scholars, but there is certainly room for working groups to invite guest speakers. Scholars interested in forming NLR groups have suggested a variety of possible formats, from asking members to read and present one anothers' work, through reading core articles from each other's disciplines (with group members from each discipline leading the discussion), to bringing in "raw" data of some kind (transcripts, for example) and conducting a shared data analysis session.

Working groups have been formed in a number of locations. Small grants are available for established NLR working groups to aid in flying in guest speakers or in otherwise facilitating group meetings.

Midwest "Translation" Working Group News (coming soon!)

East Coast "Indicators" Working Group News (coming soon!)

Southwest "Translating Rights" Working Group News (coming soon!)