Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 6

LAW 2284

Advanced Legal Research and Law Reform

Professor Peter Vincent-Jones (Module Coordinator): p.vincent-jones@leeds.ac.uk; Dr Julie
Wallbank: j.a.wallbank@leeds.ac.uk.

Module aims
To develop students’ understanding of doctrinal and empirical approaches to the study of
law and legal phenomena;
To equip students with a basic understanding of empirical research methods;
To enable students critically to evaluate the use made by academic writers of such
methods and data;
To encourage understanding of the importance of empirical research in debates
concerning law reform;
To equip students with advanced research skills in using legal databases and the internet;
To help prepare students for their final-year dissertation.
Learning outcomes
On completion of the module you should have acquired:
An appreciation of the range of approaches to the study of law and legal phenomena;
A basic understanding of empirical research methods;
An understanding of the role played by empirical data in debates on law reform;
The ability to carry out scholarly research using legal databases and the internet; and
The ability to identify research areas, questions and methods appropriate to your final-
year dissertation.

Module rationale

In completing your first year of legal studies at Leeds you have acquired a range of
discipline-specific skills in learning how to ‘think’ like a lawyer, including finding,
understanding, and applying rules and principles in resolving legal problems. Year 1
was concerned mainly with the ‘black letter’ or doctrinal tradition of legal
scholarship, whose purpose is to analyse and expound the law on any particular
subject with reference to primary and secondary sources.
The aim of this Year 2 module is to develop further intellectual skills and expertise
in research and critical evaluation appropriate to the second year, and to help
prepare for the final year Dissertation. To this end we broaden the scope of legal
study to include empirical legal research (ELR) which focuses on how the law and
legal institutions operate in their wider social, economic and political context.
Unlike doctrinal research which involves the study of law ‘in the books’, ELR is
based on the observation of law ‘in society’. Empirical legal research is increasingly
regarded as vital to improving our understanding of how the law works ‘in the real
world’ (see Nuffield Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research, 2006). We explore how
empirical methods are used to generate new knowledge and understanding of law
in society in the subject areas with which you are already familiar: English Legal
System, Tort, Contract, and Constitutional and Administrative Law.
Two types of empirical research in these fields may be distinguished. On the one
hand, quantitative research (literally relating to ‘quantity’) generates ‘hard’ and
‘objective’ data expressed in the form of numbers, percentages, or numerical

Both approaches may be critical of existing law and be accompanied by arguments for legal reform/revision – whether by means of legislation or judicial development through the appellate courts. 3 Wks 3-4 Seminar 1 – Doctrinal Research and ELR. whether doctrinal or empirical. However. Much socio-legal research is likely to involve a combination of types of empirical research. qualitative research (literally relating to ‘quality’) produces ‘soft’ data in the form of words or pictures. qualitative research is associated with methods such as interviews and participant observation. Doctrinal research and empirical legal research should be regarded as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. You will practice the evaluation skills you will need for this assignment both in preparing for seminars. 18 Assessment The assignment question will be distributed and explained in the final lecture. For the assignment. Library) p. A further common feature of legal and socio-legal research. the quantitative/qualitative dichotomy should not be exaggerated. and in the seminars themselves (see Exercises 1-5). 13 Wks 9-10 Seminar 4 – Understanding ELR – Contract p. And the same empirical method (for example the postal questionnaire) may be used to generate both quantitative and qualitative data. While quantitative research typically involves the use of methods such as surveys and questionnaires. you will be required to evaluate a journal article based on empirical legal research. and four seminars (1. 4 Wks 5-6 Seminar 2 – Understanding ELR – Judicial/Admin Discretion p. is that its conduct is increasingly governed by codes of ethics designed to protect a range of individual and societal interests in the research process. Wk 1 L1 – Introduction: Doctrinal Research and Empirical Legal Research (ELR) Wk 2 L2 – Empirical Legal Research and Ethics Wk 3 L3 – Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Legal Research Wk 4 L4 – Research Issues in Real Life (guest lecture by Sarah Blandy) Wk 5 L5 – Conclusions and Assessment Workshops and seminars Wks 1-2 Workshop – Advanced Library Skills (Martin Gill. 2 . Lectures All lectures are on Mondays in Conference Auditorium 2. Many of the journal articles to which you will be referred in this module combine doctrinal and empirical socio-legal analysis. whose meaning is more ‘subjective’ and dependent on interpretation. Module delivery This module is delivered through five one-hour lectures. which may be manipulated in various ways through statistical analysis. values. On the other hand. 8 Wks 7-8 Seminar 3 – Understanding ELR – Negligence p. Research Ethics p.5 hours each). one library workshop.

30 Social Studies Cluster (9. and a core resource you should use to guide your preparation for other seminars and the assignment.30 Social Studies Cluster (9. which will form the basis of seminar discussion and which you should use in order to inform your reading and preparation.leeds.html A record of attendance will be taken at the workshops (attendance is compulsory).htm Workshops will be held in various ISS clusters – http://www.00 – 11. Friday 2nd October (week 1) 10.uk/library/people/mrg.30 – 1. which you may collect from the Student Common Room.leeds. or through Blackboard.30 – 1.40) 3 .02) 2. It is essential that you attend at this time.Reading and seminar preparation Reading for each seminar is indicated in this handout.00 – 3. These articles/extracts are essential for seminar 1. Six key articles/extracts (R1 – R6) on doctrinal/empirical legal research and empirical research methods are provided in the reading pack.ac. Library Workshop The workshops will be led by Martin Gill http://www.00 Social Studies Cluster (9.02) 2. Your personal timetable contains information on the group to which you have been allocated.uk/iss/clusters/cluster_location.00 – 3.00 Social Studies Cluster (9. Included in this handout are questions for each seminar.ac.30 Richard Hughes Cluster (1.02) 11.40) Friday 9th October (week 2) 10.00 – 11. Other essential reading is easily available electronically via the Library web pages.30 Richard Hughes Cluster (1.02) 11. Workshops take place at the following times and venues.

in R. 2000).pdf On research ethics in legal and socio-legal research: Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA). Report Summary: http://www. 2007) pp. in Research Methods for Law. (*R1) Dobinson. Doing Research on Crime and Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press. (*R3) Hoyle. 3. ‘to colleagues’. Explain how the SLSA Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice distinguishes between obligations ‘to the academic and wider communities’.. and Research Ethics Reading On the relationship between doctrinal and empirical legal research/methods: McConville. C.uk/laws/socio-legal/empirical/docs/inquiry_summary. ‘to subjects and participants’? What is the nature of these ‘obligations’? 6. 22-45. Research Methods for Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. and Hong Chui. do you consider that this research was conducted ethically? 4 .). What criticisms does Trochim make of this distinction? 5.. W. Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice. 1-15.. (eds. Why does empirical research on law matter? What bodies in society are interested in such research? 4. ‘Being a Nosy Bloody Cow’ (a) What was she trying to find out (what were her research questions)? (b) What empirical research methods did she use. I. W. (eds. and Hong Chui. resulting in what type of data (quantitative or qualitative)? (c) With reference to the SLSA Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice. ‘Doctrinal Legal Research’ and ‘Non-Doctrinal Research’. Read the piece by Carolyn Hoyle. What is doctrinal legal research? What range of skills is practiced in this type of research? What ‘steps’ are involved in carrying out this type of research? 2. What is ‘empirical’ legal research? Distinguish empirical legal research from the ‘inter-disciplinary’ approach to the study of law.. Explain the distinction commonly drawn between ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’ empirical research.). McCoville and Chui) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.ac. ‘Ethical and Methodological Issues in Researching Domestic Violence’. in McConville.. January 2009. M.. M.ucl. 2007) pp. and Johns.Seminar 1 Doctrinal Research and Empirical Legal Research (ELR). (*R2) Nuffield Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research. Law in the Real World: Improving Our Understanding of How Law Works (Nuffield 2006). King and E. (*R4) Seminar questions 1. Wincup (eds. F. ‘Introduction and Overview’.

external. download and read closely the article by Halliday.. 2004). at: http://www. A. What according to Fink are the ‘five requirements’ for carrying out empirical legal research? 2. (d) Generalizability (e) Causality 4. S. Seminar questions 1.referenceworld.leeds. Using the following pro-forma checklist. Explain what you understand by the following key research methods concepts: (a) Reliability (b) Replication (c) Validity (distinguish between internal. and ecological validity). Bryman. Clues are provided in the right-hand column as to how you might go about your evaluation. Ch 2: ‘Criteria in social research’. Social Research Methods (OUP. and where in the article you might find answers. Navigate to the University Library ‘e-journals’ page http://library. 5 . Ch 3 ‘The Main Preoccupations of Quantitative Researchers’. for this seminar you need to locate via Library electronic resources.ac. evaluate this article with reference to the research methods concepts indicated in the left-hand column.pdf Article for evaluation: Halliday.. Explain what you understand by the term ‘triangulation’. pp 28- 29 (*R5). A.uk/info/200114/how_do_i_find/32/e-journals Read the article by Halliday (above). ‘The Influence of Judicial Review on Bureaucratic Decision Making’ (2000) Public Law (Spring) 110-122. pp 272-276 (*R7). Ch 13 ‘Qualitative Research’. ‘On Triangulation’..Seminar 2 Understanding Empirical Research on Judicial and Administrative Discretion In addition to core reading. S. 3. Why does Bryman suggest that it is necessary to ‘adapt’ criteria of reliability and validity in relation to qualitative research? What alternative criteria (under ‘trustworthiness’) does he suggest should be used evaluating qualitative research? What is ‘respondent validation’? 5.com/sage/socialscience/triangulation. Reading On empirical research methods: Bryman.. pp 76-79 (*R6). ‘The Influence of Judicial Review on Bureaucratic Decision Making’ (2000) Public Law (Spring) 110-122.

What does author mean by saying JR What empirical data are produced by the methods used? acted as ‘double edged sword’? What does he mean by ‘legal conscientiousness’? How are these points illustrated How do researchers analyze raw data – what concepts or by findings? analytical methods do they employ to understand data? Reliability/dependability Can the data produced by the research methods be ‘relied’ on How much are we told about how the researcher gathered the data? (quantitative research).Is the sample representative of local authorities as a How representative is the sample (that segment or part of the whole? See top p.How does this research contribute to a ‘field’ of similar What does the research contribute to the understanding of law research? See references to research by other authors in this field? How successful is it in filling ‘gaps’ in addressing similar questions. or likely to be . are the results of exercised by local authorities (on homelessness) transferable to other types of administrative decision- the research ‘externally valid’ (quantitative research) or making? nb. Approach Is the research doctrinal. or techniques.112. fn. address? . end p. first full paragraph. knowledge? . throughout.See research questions above .how ambitious were the research questions? conclusions based on the empirical research? .117.g.120. What are the main research questions (what are the researchers trying to find out)? . or what ‘problem. quantitative. principles 5-8. either ‘problem’ identified in this article? What other reform is explicitly addressed by author. in what form? . Ethics What are the relevant principles in SLSA ethics code? See What ethical issues were at stake in this research? esp. proportions etc. Does this matter? phenomenon that the researchers are trying to study)? Internal validity/credibility Where research data are claimed to show a causal relationship .. triangulation) Findings See: pp.What inferences does the author draw from the data? See beginning of section headed ‘The limited focus of judicial between ‘x’ & ‘y’.4. fn. 114-117 nb. conducting the research? Why is this question of relevance to ethics? What ethical obligations should they have observed? Argument of article and conclusions . see end of p. approaches? Research questions What aspect of law. Statement of Principles of Ethical Research Practice in Was the research carried out as part of a team? See fn.122. SLSA in the article? (nb.111. final sentence before section ‘Self-scrutiny ‘cause’ or explain ‘y’ (quantitative research)? by administrative agencies’ p.? See end p. or a combination of these See whole article – in particular e. What ‘gap’ in our knowledge does the research seek to fill? Type of empirical research .What reference does author make to numbers.’ does the research . does the claim hold water. p. eg.Requires close reading of introduction – opening four paragraphs. How convinced are you by the authors’ overall argument and . S.What qualitative research data are presented in the Is the research qualitative. or implicit? necessary to address this problem? 6 . footnote 21. In what different senses does the author protect anonymity Did the researchers conform to any ethical code.Any evidence of respondent validation in this research? acceptable to/believed by others (qualitative research)? nb ‘respondent validation’.120. are the researchers using See: p. are they ‘dependable’ (qualitative research)? How should the research have been conducted in order to Is the research replicable? Have the researchers spelt out their meet this criterion? procedures so that the results are capable of replication? Does the research have ‘ecological validity’? External validity/transferability . Are the results of the research feasible. or a combination of these article. ‘transferable’ to other contexts (qualitative research)? . empirical. (nb. and people). local authorities.Nb.Checklist for evaluating empirical legal research – Exercise 1 Halliday.113. not always posed explicitly as ‘questions’. triangulation) Research methods What empirical methods. statistics.30.See opening paragraph.9. types? percentages. does ‘x’ really review’ p. ‘The Influence of Judicial Review on Bureaucratic Decision Making’ (2000) Public Law (Spring) 110-122.Why would reform of the law of JR not solve the What are implications of research for legal reform. to address their research questions? (nb.Are results of research on administrative discretion Assuming the data to be reliable/dependable.See author’s Conclusion.114.