The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research

Herbert M. Kritzer

in The Oxford Handbook of Empirical Legal Research

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542475
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research


This article attempts at a close appraisal of legal research, dating back to the pre-war times. It begins by discussing the burst of research in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s as well as the dash of such research prior to 1920. Following this, it considers the funding dilemmas that confronted the undertaking of this research, why the research was found almost exclusively in the United States, and the methodologies employed for this research. It discusses a variety of themes found in the early empirical legal research with a particular focus on projects and findings that presage debates and concerns in contemporary empirical legal research. Finally, it concludes with a discussion of why empirical work seemed to fade out in the late 1930s and what lead to its revival in the 1950s.

Keywords: legal research; methodologies; contemporary empirical legal research; appraisal of legal research; findings

Article.  11548 words. 

Subjects: Law ; History of Law

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