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I share these stories from my own experiences in the social and legal sciences, both as a researcher and as a commissioned consultant, to show what the rest of this essay explores in more detail – social law studies are essential to a true understanding of how law and legal institutions work, integrated into other social processes and institutions. But even with rigorous methods and verifiable theories, courts, political advocacy groups, and supporters are able to “use” social law studies for theory-making, data analysis, and policy initiatives, but social law research can also be misused for advocacy or, more troubling, not used at all or ignored when it comes to empirical claims. In the following sections, I will give some examples of both. In previous articles, I have asked what are the tropes, ideas or memes of the law? What ideas or contributions to human knowledge come from the study of law alone? Even the classic notions of “due process,” “equal protection,” and “fairness” stem from political philosophy and politics. The “ideas” of tort, contract, property – classic elements of common law and civil law – are models of rules developed over time that enable social order and how certain forms of science are subject to change as conditions change and more and more studies show the need for different models. but in modern times, it is often the observations of social law studies that provide evidence that rules should change or evolve (see Menkel-Meadow, 2001, 2007). The study of dispute settlement itself (Abel, 1973b; Nader and Todd, 1978; Gulliver, 1979) is one of the great interdisciplinary constructions of social law. From doctrinal studies of legal affairs, legal anthropologists, and later sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists, began to examine more deeply how “cases” are developed, from the now classic concepts of “designation” (recognition of injustice), “blame” (attribution to someone), and “demand” (formal attempt to obtain redress) (Felstiner, Abel and Sarat, 1980-1981), to which I and others have added “realignments,” such as lawyers and lawyers. Mediators could change the understanding of disputes. are truly approximate (Menkel-Meadow, 1985). Other researchers are now examining the social construction of disputes, both formal and informal ways in which they are resolved (or not), asking whether a certain amount of conflict is healthy for a society to bring about social change and avoid pacifying or depoliticizing societies that seek to eliminate or reduce their conflicts too much.

to create a false “harmony” (Nader, 1990). The Depression and New Deal era is often seen as both the raison d`être and the culmination of the use of the social sciences in policy-making and the science of legal realism (Schlegel, 1995; Twining, 2012). Many of the early legal realists (primarily from Yale and Columbia law schools) entered the Roosevelt administration, advocating for regulation and legislation (in securities, banking, corporate regulation, labor, and welfare) based on social science studies. During this period, empirical data were also compiled for legal reform (criminal law) and judicial procedure reform (Menkel-Meadow and Garth, 2010). One of the current projects in the social law field is to “rewrite” the main legal opinions in various fields, but also the perspectives of empirical data and also the contributions of previously “excluded” groups, e.g. women, minorities, etc. (see Moran, 2010; Menkel-Wiese und Diamant, 1991; Hunter, chapter 19, this volume). My next Durkheimian epiphany came from secondary analysis. In one of the most successful multinational social law projects, Rick Abel (UCLA) and Philip Lewis (Oxford Centre of Socio-Legal Studies) brought together a group of lawyers for many years to conduct a study of the legal professions in general, civil and “mixed” legal systems (18 different countries on five continents).

It was eventually organized into a three-volume study on lawyers in society (Abel and Lewis, 1988, 1989, 1995), and my task was to collect and analyze data on the work of women lawyers in all countries participating in the study. I remember the “Eureka!” when, at the end of my analysis, I found that women were present in one form or another as lawyers, judges or other lawyers in all the countries represented, but when analyzing the rank and status of certain professions, women were still in the least valued or respected segment of the profession. Evidence of the nature of occupational segregation observed in most occupational sociological studies of the time (Menkel-Meadow, 1989). Today, these Durkheimian models of gender differences in the profession are the subject of heated debate as researchers continue to report data collection to the legal profession at the national and gender levels (see Schultz & Shaw, 2003; Abel, Sommerlad, Hammerslev, & Schultz, 2019-2020) and discuss the social meanings of gender diversity (and now others) in the legal profession. As a specialist in negotiation behavior, I continue to be involved in this project, arguing that actresses always start from gendered assumptions as perceived by others and implemented by themselves (Menkel-Meadow, 2012). More important are the difficult epistemological questions of the different “standards of evidence” in the natural and social sciences and legal norms. Many experts and academics have commented on the divergence of the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard in criminal law (e.g., prediction), and even the “preponderance of evidence” standard in many civil cases is inconsistent with the probabilistic standards of claims (based on relative confidence) that can be derived from empirical studies (see, for example, Robbennolt, 2002; Greiner, 2008; Haack, 2014). Causal analysis in the social sciences does not meet legal standards of causality in any of its fields (crime, discrimination, environmental and epidemiological damage), so empiricists and experts are disappointed at not being fully recognized in court proceedings, and lawyers and judges are often frustrated by their inability to use empirical research in a positive way. 11 The study of law in a social context has also produced ideas about how non-legal actors perceive the law and relate to the law, through ideas of legal awareness, legal ideology and sub-domain of law and culture. Ewick and Silbey`s (1998) study on the “commonplace of law” uses a variety of data sources to examine how ordinary citizens stand “before”, “with” or “against” the law, using formal and informal normative orders. Like their study, I remember starting a study on such an informal order when my local theater in Washington, D.C.

announced in advance ticket sales for blockbusters like the Harry Potter movies. Large groups of people began lining up weeks in advance and sleeping on the sidewalk to buy tickets for the first screening of these films. When I started observing daily, it was clear that the group had developed its own informal norms that were enforced by the group without official police or judicial action, such as allowed toilet breaks without losing its own space, no substitution of individuals in line, shared food and garbage shopping, and free space for neighboring businesses. On several occasions, for several years after the release of these films, honest young people established rules and monitored themselves to act appropriately, so that no official police were called. The rules that were “enacted” in this way seemed to pass from one episode to the next. Josephine Goldmark was the sister-in-law of Louis Brandeis. She wrote the letter with feminist reformer Florence Kelley (Chused and Williams, 2016, 960). Notably, this letter also presented “foreign” (non-U.S.) data and laws illustrating current issues surrounding the use of “foreign” documents in U.S. legal decision-making (see Jackson, 2010). Bradshaw, A (1997) `Sense and Sensibility: Debates and Developments in Socio-legal Research Methods` in P A Thomas (ed.), Socio-Legal Studies (Aldershot: Dartmouth), pp. 99–122 In the United States, social law experts have been asked to consider issues such as whether civilians should be involved in reviewing police decisions; what procedures should be applied in the various regulatory matters; the impact that the media might have on legal decision-making (think of the “CSI” effect – jurors demanding more technical and forensic evidence after many years of television broadcasts exaggerating the validity of that evidence; see Goehner, Lofaro, & Novak, 2004; Kopacki, 2013); what legal interventions are most effective in ensuring compliance (e.g., health and safety); and which measures are most effective in the areas of social protection, family law and immigration policy (Sarat and Ewick, 2015). In other cases, lawyers call on social scientists as experts (as in statistical evidence of workplace discrimination and public health cases) or to gather data arguments for modern “Brandeis briefs.” Unlike many jurisdictions where the judge appoints a single expert to advise the court, American antagonism (Kagan, 2003) has spawned the “battle of competing experts” in many judicial and administrative proceedings, including health and medical sciences, weapons forensics, accident mapping, and a variety of (less common) social science issues.

Thus, in some cases, empiricism is alive and well in our trials (even though trials are extremely rare these days – less than 2% of all cases filed in our federal court system end up in a trial [Galanter, 2004], although experts are always abandoned at pre-trial discovery and their reports are factored into court decisions and motions).