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New Legal Realism Conversations:
An Empirical Law & Society Blog

How do we know what law really does?  Can the best knowledge from social science be used to improve delivery of law on the ground?  From the old legal realists to today’s generation of law-and-society researchers, scholars in law and social science have worked to answer these questions.  Curiously, much of this excellent ongoing research has yet to be discovered and incorporated into mainstream legal scholarship, despite the current interest in empiricism in law.

Building from the law-and-society interdisciplinary tradition, and drawing on the full range of current social science knowledge, New Legal Realists in the U.S. have been working toward a new synthesis of law, social science, and policy since 1997.   Their work bridges disciplines and methods in a systematic effort to develop translations of law and social science.  This requires expertise in the language and categories of law, as well as expertise in interdisciplinary research on law.

Our group of New Legal Realists does not take an exclusionary or singular approach; we incorporate qualitative, experimental, and quantitative methods and study all aspects of law — from the ground-level of daily life to the top-level of judges and politicians.  We think that understanding what law really means in our lives will require examining many kinds of questions, using multiple methods. And getting people to cooperate and talk across disciplines is often the hardest job of all.  In addition to our scholarly writings, we have been holding conferences and posting on the “New Legal Realism” webpage since 2004.  In 2011, we moved the “Conversations” section of the NLR web project to this blog format, which now links to the rest of the webpage.

Stay tuned to the New Legal Realism project’s webpage, and this blog, for the latest on this strand of U.S. legal scholarship:  http://www.newlegalrealism.org