My UCLA colleague Lynn LoPucki has posted an interesting article on empirical legal scholarship:
Disciplines tend to develop their own empirical methods. This article reports on a study of one hundred and twenty empirical legal studies published in the non-peer-review leading law reviews and in the peer-review Journal of Empirical Legal Studies ("JELS"). The study reveals four important categories of differences between disciplinary legal empiricism, defined as legal empiricism conducted by persons holding Ph.D. degrees (whether or not they also hold law degrees), and native legal empiricism, defined as legal empiricism conducted by persons holding only law degrees. First, the study found that Ph.D.s and J.D.-Ph.D.s collaborate more than J.D.s, but the collaboration is largely among the Ph.D. holders themselves. Second, JELS appeared to value methodological expertise over legal expertise. Only 15% of the JELS articles had no author holding a Ph.D., while 35% had no author holding a J.D. Third, the J.D.s were more likely to draw their data from published sources, while Ph.D.s and J.D.-Ph.D.s were more likely to draw their data from prior research, survey, or experiment. Lastly, the J.D.s were almost twice as likely to code their own data. These differences are important because law schools are rapidly hiring J.D.-Ph.D.s in an effort to increase the quantity and quality of legal empiricism. The study concludes that law school Ph.D. hiring is unlikely to achieve large increases in collaboration between Ph.D.s and J.D.s. It also concludes that the reduction in coding resulting from the hiring of more J.D.-Ph.D.s will escalate legal empiricism’s methodological sophistication while reducing its legal sophistication.
LoPucki, Lynn M., Disciplinary Legal Empiricism (May 17, 2015). UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2607129
In other words, law schools are hiring people who are better at crunching numbers than legal analysis. Which makes no fraking sense. We're supposed to be teaching people how to be lawyers, not statisticians. We're supposed to be doing research that helps lawyers and judges solve difficult legal questions, not engaging in mathematical masturbation.