Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lempert, "Growing Up in Law & Society: The Pulls of Policy and Methods"

Richard Lempert (University of Michigan) has posted "Growing Up in Law & Society: The Pulls of Policy and Methods." Here's the abstract:
This article which will appear as the introductory essay in Volume 9 of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science begins, at the editor’s request, with a professional autobiography which traces the aspirations and training that led to Lempert’s commitment to the field of law and social science and allows him to comment on the emergence of Empirical Legal Studies and other development sin [sic] the field. Some of what is written may be of interest to those who seek to understand the history of the field’s revival, and those who were among the first generation of Law & Society Association members may see some of their own experience in Lempert’s account. But much of the article’s first portion may be of interest largely to the author’s friends and family. The second and larger portion of the article discusses uses of law and social science research in the policy arena and cautions against the possibility that a study’s policy appeal may exceed the weight that can fairly be put on it. Five studies are used as examples: James Q. Wilson and Kelling’s essay on "Broken Windows," Lawrence Sherman and Richard Berk’s work on arrest for spouse abuse, Isaac Ehrlich’s article on the deterrent effects of the death penalty, John Lott and David Mustard’s work on "right to carry" laws and Richard Sander’s mismatch critique of affirmative action. The portion discussing Sander’s work presents previously unpublished data that not only refutes published claims by Professor Sander that Michigan Law School’s minority graduates fare poorly on the bar, but also indicates in 3 recent years affirmative action eligibility appears to have had little if any relationship to bar passage success. The article also emphasizes the importance to policy of understanding mechanism, and the need for sophistication in the soft methods of study design along with a good understanding of formal statistics.
The full essay is available here, at SSRN.