The Origins, Nature, and Promise of Empirical Legal Studies and a Response to Concerns

This Article describes the origins of three movements in legal academia: empirical legal studies (ELS), law and society, and law and eco-nomics. It then quantifies the distribution across scholarly fields (for example, economics and psychology) of authors in these movements’ journals and reports the impact of the movements’ scholarly journals. By focusing on two leading law and economics journals, this Article also explores the effect of a journal being centered in law schools rather than in a social science discipline. It suggests that ELS has achieved rapid growth and impact within the academic legal community because of (1) its association with law schools, and (2) its receptiveness to contributions by scholars from all social science disciplines. Concerns about the quality and growth of ELS are found to lack persuasive support.

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