Shauhin A. Talesh, Elizabeth Mertz, and Heinz Klug, Introduction — Modern Legal Realism: Paving the Way for Theoretically-Informed Empirical Research in the Legal Academy, in Research Handbook on Modern Legal Realism 1 (Shauhin Talesh, Elizabeth Mertz, & Heinz Klug eds., 2021).
This introductory chapter shows the distinctive qualities of New Legal Realism (NLR), captures where it stands around its fifteenth anniversary, and explains the goal of the larger book. In doing so, we demonstrate NLR’s fruitful continuation of the legal realist adventure as it reaches beyond historical and national boundaries to form new international conversations, based heavily on law-and-society networks and traditions. In addition, we provide a contrast to Empirical Legal Studies, because the NLR project clearly visible in this volume does not just use quantitative methods to study lawyers and legal institutions as they have been traditionally viewed. Instead, it includes chapters by social scientists and law professors using social science theory and multiple methods to understand law and address legal problems—across an impressive variety of subject areas such as immigration, policing, globalization, legal education, and access to justice. Finally, it offers a series of chapters from scholars—across an array of law and social science disciplines—explaining what particular disciplinary approaches offer to the process of translating law and empirical research. Overall, this volume highlights the powerful virtues of new legal realist research and an appreciation and awareness of the challenges of translation between social science and law.