Category Archives: Economics

Law in action and law on the books: A primer

We are pleased to welcome a guest blogger, Bill Clune, whose post gives us his “primer” on the concept of law-in-action, a concept shared by the original legal realists, scholars in the law-and-society tradition, and many new legal realists. Clune’s reflection was occasioned by questions raised at the University of Wisconsin Law School. We welcome other reflections on the concept of “law-in-action” at

Guest Blogger: Bill Clune,* May, 2013

This essay was prompted by a question from the then Assistant Dean of Admissions to me as Admissions Chair about what to tell applicants who asked him about the meaning of “law-in-action.” He is a graduate of our school [the University of Wisconsin Law School], which has specialized in the area for many decades, and he had listened to and read many explanations, including those on our web site, which is also available to and often read by the applicants. I think of myself as having spent a lifetime of scholarship and teaching in the area, but it was easier for me to give examples and say words circling the concept than to formulate a clear, concise explanation. The puzzle was accentuated by a survey subsequently administered to our law students which found that the most common understanding of law-in-action was clinical education, a response which seemed to me unquestionably valid from a student perspective yet also incomplete.

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Comparative institutional analysis and NLR

How do we move from detailed empirical research on law to address broader questions about how law operates? Our blog and website this month feature scholarly attempts to join empirical legal research with comparative institutional analysis…

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Nobel Prize Winners in Economics Advocate Mixed Methods, Complex Approaches

Legal scholars seeking rigor in studying the law often turn to single-method solutions  — statistical analyses of large data sets, for example, or lab studies.   They might be surprised to hear two Nobel laureates in Economics talk about the importance of interdisciplinarity, of turning to many methods.

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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)