Category Archives: Announcements

LSA Meetings, CRN 28, and a Gathering!

The Law & Society Association Meetings are here! We’re sure all attendees will enjoy the intellectual conversations and beautiful surrounds of Seattle.

An informal gathering is planned at those meetings as a way for “new legal realist” and like-minded people to get to know each other and to build community.  The gathering will take place on Friday the 29th in the bar at the Westin, from 5:45 until 8:00. The idea is just to schmooze, collect names, and share ideas.  CRN 28 has long fostered discussion of empirical methods, and of translating empirical work for law.  As such it is very much a part of the wider NLR conversation.  All are welcome — hope to see you there!  Look for organizers Meredith Martin Rountree and Mary Rose…. And if you are interested but can’t be there, send us an email ( to let us know of your interest.


Happy Birthday to the Law & Society Association!

We at the New Legal Realism blog want to congratulate the Law & Society Association on the occasion of its 50th anniversary meetings.  The LSA Meetings, currently underway in Minneapolis, have for many years drawn social science and legal scholars together for productive scholarly conversations across many tough-to-traverse disciplinary boundaries.  The “broad tent” approach always espoused by LSA has drawn its critics, but it also has permitted diversity of many kinds to flourish – not least of which is the constant back-and-forth between theories and methods from a broad range of social sciences, on the one hand, and the concerns of lawyers who struggle on the ground to bring law to its best potential.  We celebrate that ongoing vibrant exchange in our May NLR post.

Work in the LSA tradition has spanned all of the social sciences, permitting scholars to match the methods they use to the questions they seek to answer (rather than adhering to methodological orthodoxies).  It has, importantly, drawn on theory as well as method from the social sciences, while it has also bridged the divide between legal scholarship and empirical research.  The very first winner of the LSA’s prestigious Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize in 1983 was University of Chicago law professor Hans Ziesel, who along with sociologist Kalven, had conducted a famous study of “The American Jury.”  Abraham Goldstein described the project as follows:

… directed by a distinguished lawyer and sociologist, it offered at long last to fulfill the promise of realist jurisprudence.  The legal   realists, who came of age in the 20’s and 30’s, had called academic lawyers away from the abstract doctrines announced by appellate courts and had urged them instead to study legal institutions and processes as they functioned in the real world – the behavioral assumptions underlying them, the interactions among them and the relation they bore to other social phenomena. (Review of “The American Jury” in Commentary Magazine (April 1967))

Since 1983, the Kalven Prize (along with other LSA honors) has been awarded to scholars from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds, including psychology, anthropology, law, criminology, political science, and sociology – and has recognized work using experimental, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods conducted to high standards.  At the same time, we see among those honored by the LSA an enduring concern with justice and with applying social science knowledge to real world problems.  This year’s honorees include Empirical Legal Studies founder Ted Eisenberg, whose quantitative research contributed to better understandings of the law in action across a host of arenas (from jury behavior to capital punishment to attorney fee systems) – and Kim Lane Scheppele, whose empirical ethnographic work on comparative constitutional law manages to also bridge legal and social science theory at high levels, while speaking directly to urgent policy issues.

The John Hope Franklin Prize at LSA honors top-notch research on race, racism, and the law — and work by outstanding scholars on gender, class, legal history, and international topics (to mention just a few) has been fostered and recognized by the LSA (which regularly draws scholars from across the world together).  In its ongoing support for truly interdisciplinary research and intellectual exchange about the law in action, LSA exemplifies the spirit of the new legal realism.  Happy Birthday, LSA, and here’s to the next 50 years!

2013 in review

Our yearly blog report is in and it shows that our web presence grew in 2013.  We occupy a relatively quiet corner of the internet, but that’s okay with us!  We are happy to stand with the “slow movement” — especially the “slow reading” process that encourages us to value careful thinking over racing to amass greater quantities of stuff.  That said, we have some exciting new ideas for posts — and some new bloggers — planned for 2014.  Thanks to you all for tuning in this past year.  We are especially proud that we are hearing from people all over the world (88 countries in all).   There really is a new spirit and interest rising in studying law “on the ground”!  Happy New Year!


Two more New Legal Realists join in!

We are happy to add two new members to our blogging group here: Fred Aman and Elizabeth Chambliss.

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Introducing 2 new legal realists and 2 old legal realists…

In our September 2011 post, we introduce two members of a younger generation of new legal realists, and re-play some nuggets of wisdom from two of the older generation…. Jerome Frank and Karl Llewellyn.

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We are starting a new format for the New Legal Realism Conversations,which have been posted as part of the NLR Project webpage since 2009.   We feature commentary from current contributors and highlights of important legal realist scholarship — from past to present.   This is not intended to be a conventional blog, but is part of a larger project (see our webpage for more information).

Join Stewart Macaulay, Elizabeth Mertz, and new contributors, for conversations about law, society, and all that jazz!

Below you will find an archive of some of our past topics:

2009-2010 POSTS: (click on page numbers below)

  • Leading Economists Criticize Rational Choice Models (page 2)
  • Why Law Needs Empirical Anthropology (page 3)
  • Stewart Macaulay’s Jazz Picks (page 4)
  • Legal Research Funded by Big Oil? (page 5)