An Empirical Analysis of Empirical Legal Scholarship Production, 1990–2009

Inspired by the retirement of Professor Tom Ulen of the University of Illinois, the author considers the growth and development of empirical legal scholarship over two decades—a period of time that corresponds, not coincidentally, with Professor Ulen’s career. Starting in the 1990s when empirical scholarship had not yet “caught on,” the author first documents the increase in quantity of empirical scholarship over two decades. Next, the author applies a law and economics perspective to the recent surge in empirical scholarship, explaining that the trend has been fueled by an increase in the number of empirically trained scholars and also by increased demand for this type of scholarship. The author concludes by reflecting on Professor Ulen’s contribution to legal scholarship and suggests the time has come to ask not whether empirical legal scholarship has arrived but why it took so long to do so.

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