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Artikel

Access_open Teaching Comparative Law, Pragmatically (Not Practically)

Special Issue on Pragmatism and Legal Education, Sanne Taekema & Thomas Riesthuis (eds.)

Journal Law and Method, October 2020
Keywords comparative legal studies, legal education, pragmatism
Authors Alexandra Mercescu
Author's information

Alexandra Mercescu
Alexandra Mercescu, Ph.D is lecturer at the Department of Public Law, University of Timisoara, Romania.
Artikel

Access_open Blended Learning in Legal Education

Using Scalable Learning to Improve Student Learning

Journal Law and Method, May 2020
Keywords legal education, blended learning, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, student learning
Authors Mr.dr. Emanuel van Dongen and Dr. Femke Kirschner
AbstractAuthor's information

    Education should be aimed at supporting student learning. ICT may support student learning. It also may help students to learn and increase their involvement and thus their efforts. Blended learning has the potential to improve study behaviour of students, thus becoming an indispensable part of their education. It may improve their preparation level, and as a result, face-to-face education will be more efficient and more profound (e.g. by offering more challenging tasks), lifting the learning process to a higher level. Moreover, the interaction between students and teachers may be improved by using ICT. A necessary condition to lift students’ learning to a higher (better: deeper) learning level is that all students acquire basic knowledge before they engage in face-to-face teaching. In a First-Year Course Introduction to Private Law, we recently introduced a Scalable Learning environment. This environment allows the acquiring and testing of factual knowledge at individual pace, in a modern and appealing way (independent of time and place). The link between offline and online education during face-to-face teaching is made by using Learning Analytics, provided by the Scalable Learning environment. After the implementation of Scalable Learning, a survey on its effect on learning has been performed by means of questionnaires. The results were compared at the beginning and at the end of the course, related to the approaches taken by teachers as well as to the exam results. This article presents the outcomes of this study.


Mr.dr. Emanuel van Dongen
Mr.dr. Emanuel van Dongen, Department of Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht University.

Dr. Femke Kirschner
Dr. Femke Kirschner works as Educational Consultant at the Educational Development and Training, Utrecht University.
Artikel

Access_open Using Case Studies for Research on Judicial Opinions. Some Preliminary Insights

Journal Law and Method, November 2019
Keywords case study, judicial opinions, empirical legal research, qualitative methods, research on judicial opinions
Authors Mateusz Stępień
AbstractAuthor's information

    There is a pressing need to develop a research methodology for studying judicial opinions that goes beyond both dogmatic analyzes and the established positions developed within philosophy of law and legal theory (e.g. the hermeneutic and argumentative approaches). One possible way is to adopt or modify methodologies developed within empirically oriented social sciences. Most social science textbooks devoted to methodology of empirical research deal with case studies. So far, this research framework developed within the social sciences has not been applied directly to judicial opinions, though they have been used for some empirical legal research studies. Even et first sight, case study research would appear to have potential for use with judicial opinions. The aim of the paper is to answer the question, how and to what extent can case study methodology developed within the social sciences be fruitfully used to examine judicial opinions? The general answer is undoubtedly positive (case studies can bring new, non-trivial threads to the research methodology on judicial opinions), though with many serious and far-reaching reservations.


Mateusz Stępień
Assistant Professor, Department of Law and Administration, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland.
Artikel

Access_open Teaching Socio-Legal Research Methodology: Participant Observation. Special Issue on Active Learning and Teaching in Legal Education

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Keywords Participant observation, sociolegal research, methodology, teaching
Authors Marc A. Simon Thomas
AbstractAuthor's information

    The basics of how to conduct participant observation are not taught in law schools. This is striking because this methodology has become a common feature of qualitative research and could be very useful in sociolegal research. For those interested in studying ‘law in practice’ instead of ‘law in the books’, qualitative research methods like participant observation are inevitable. However, participant observation is, at best, secondary in the literature on qualitative research in the sociolegal discipline, while there is no guidance on how to conduct this technique whatsoever.Therefore, this article is written with two audiences in mind: It should serve as a useful reference and guide for those who teach qualitative research methods in legal education and who are looking to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning participant observation; it is also meant to serve as a basic primer for the beginning sociolegal researcher who is about to become a participating observer for the first time.


Marc A. Simon Thomas
Utrecht University, School of Law, Institute of Jurisprudence, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Legal Theory; m.a.simonthomas@uu.nl.
Boekbespreking

Access_open Kestemont, Handbook on Legal Methodology. A Review

(Book review of Kestemont, L. (2018). Handbook on Legal Methodology. From Objective to Method. Cambridge: Intersentia, xiii + 97 pp.)

Journal Law and Method, January 2019
Authors Wibren van der Burg
Author's information

Wibren van der Burg
Wibren van der Burg, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University of Rotterdam and School of Law, Queen Mary University of London.

    In legal education, criticism is conceived as an academic activity. As lecturers, we expect from students more than just the expression of their opinion; they have to evaluate and criticize a certain practice, building on a sound argumentation and provide suggestions on how to improve this practice. Criticism not only entails a negative judgment but is also constructive since it aims at changing the current state of affairs that it rejects (for some reason or other). In this article, we want to show how we train critical writing in the legal skills course for first-year law students (Juridische vaardigheden) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. We start with a general characterization of the skill of critical writing on the basis of four questions: 1. Why should we train critical writing? 2. What does criticism mean in a legal context? 3. How to carry out legal criticism? and 4. How to derive recommendations from the criticism raised? Subsequently, we discuss, as an illustration to the last two questions, the Dutch Urgenda case, which gave rise to a lively debate in the Netherlands on the role of the judge. Finally, we show how we have applied our general understanding of critical writing to our legal skills course. We describe the didactic approach followed and our experiences with it.


Bart van Klink
Bart van Klink is Professor of Legal Methodology, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Lyana Francot
Lyana Francot is Associate Professor of Legal Theory, Department of Legal Theory and History, Faculty of Law, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

    This paper starts by reviewing empirical research that threatens law and economics’ initial success. This research has demonstrated that the functioning of the law cannot be well understood based on the assumption of the rational actor and that policies which are based on this assumption are likely to be flawed. Subsequently, three responses to this criticism are discussed. Whereas the first response denounces this criticism by maintaining that the limitations attributed to the rational actor can easily be incorporated in rational choice theory, the second response welcomes the criticism as an opportunity to come up with an integrative theory of law and behavior. The third response also takes the criticism seriously but replaces the aspiration to come up with such an integrative theory by a context-sensitive approach. It will be argued that the first two responses fall short while the third response offers a promising way to go forward.


Peter Mascini
Prof. dr. P. Mascini, Erasmus School of Law and Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    Legal doctrinal scholarship engages with the problems of legal practice: it systematizes, comments on, evaluates and debates what goes on in law. These activities do not occur in a vacuum: they are embedded in scholarly traditions and theories. This paper discusses the role of the theoretical frameworks used in legal research and has two related aims. First, it aims to provide some practical conceptualizations and guidelines regarding theoretical and normative frameworks that are useful to understand and conduct legal research. Second, it aims to investigate the relationships between different kinds of normative frameworks and their relationship to empirical work. In the second part, an argument is made for a pragmatist understanding of the interplay between normative theorizing and empirical study. How do these work together in judgments about the state of the law?


Sanne Taekema
Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam; taekema@law.eur.nl.

    It is often claimed in the media and in political and academic debates that more law nurtures more research, which in turn should generate more information. However, the question researchers are left with is: What does this mean for comparative law and its methods? This paper takes the context of European consumer sales law as an example of the web of rules applicable at both European and national level. In this context, the main idea behind this article is that looking at law and research as data to be built upon and used in further analysis can revolutionise the way in which legal research is understood. This is because current research methods in European consumer sales law fall short of systematically analysing the essential weaknesses of the current regulation system. In this contribution, I argue that the volume of regulation in European consumer law is large enough for it to be considered Big Data and analysed in a way that can harness its potential in this respect. I exemplify this claim with a case-study consisting in the setting up of a Convergence Index that maps the converging effect of harmonizing policies adopted by the European legislator in the field of


Catalina Goanta
Assistant Professor of Private Law, Maastricht Law School, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

    Comparative methodology is an important and a widely used method in the legal literature. This method is important inter alia to search for alternative national rules and acquire a deeper understanding of a country’s law. According to a survey of over 500 Dutch legal scholars, 61 per cent conducts comparative research (in some form). However, the methodological application of comparative research generally leaves much to be desired. This is particularly true when it comes to case selection. This applies in particular to conceptual and dogmatic research questions, possibly also allowing causal explanations for differences between countries. This article suggests that the use of an interdisciplinary research design could be helpful, and Hofstede’s cultural-psychological dimensions can offer a solution to improve the methodology of selection criteria.


Dave van Toor
D.A.G. van Toor, PhD LLM BSc works as a researcher and lecturer in Criminal (Procedural) Law and Criminology at the Universität Bielefeld.

    The article discusses the contribution of comparative law to the study of federalism and decentralisation. In doing so, it stresses the relevance of the notion of federalising process, as elaborated by Carl J. Friedrich.


Giacomo Delledonne
Postdoctoral fellow in Constitutional Law, Scuola superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Email: giacomo. delledonne@gmail.com. Huge thanks go to Sofia Ranchordás and Irene Broekhuijse. I would also like to thank Paolo Carrozza, Paolo Addis, Ilaria Rivera and the anonymous reviewers for their precious suggestions and comments.

    By conducting methodological assessments, legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing. Two aspects of such assessments are highlighted in this article. The first aspect is to construct promising lines of inquiry. The second aspect is to clarify provisionally the potential of various promising lines of inquiry. Clarifying and calibrating such potential through discourse with fellow researchers are essential. Increased awareness of how legal researchers decide which lines of inquiry are worth pursuing is vital to contemporary discourse about legal methodology.


Synne Sæther Mæhle
Associate professor, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway

    This article examines the main assumptions and theoretical underpinnings of case study method in legal studies. It considers the importance of research design, including the crucial roles of the academic literature review, the research question and the use of rival theories to develop hypotheses and the practice of identifying the observable implications of those hypotheses. It considers the selection of data sources and modes of analysis to allow for valid analytical inferences to be drawn in respect of them. In doing so it considers, in brief, the importance of case study selection and variations such as single or multi case approaches. Finally it provides thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses associated with undertaking socio-legal and comparative legal research via a case study method, addressing frequent stumbling blocks encountered by legal researchers, as well as ways to militate them. It is written with those new to the method in mind.


Lisa Webley

    Sensitive interviews involve emotionally difficult topics which require participants to face issues that are deeply personal and possibly distressing. This paper draws together reflections concerning how researchers manage the challenges of conducting sensitive interviews, including the author’s own reflections concerning interviewing clinical negligence claimants. First, it examines the ethical guidelines that regulate sensitive research, and the challenges of obtaining informed consent and maintaining confidentiality. Ethical guidelines, however, provide limited assistance for ensuring the emotional care of research participants, and we also consider challenges that are not usually formally regulated. These include preparing for the interview, and then ensuring the emotional care of participants both during and after the interview itself. Sensitive research also raises deeper ethical issues concerning the negotiation of relations between researcher and participant, especially when this relationship is unequal. Finally, while previous research has generally focused on the need to take emotional care of research participants, less attention has been given to the emotional needs of researchers. It is argued that support systems for researchers are too often ad hoc, and that providing support is often not a priority of granting bodies, grant holders or supervisors, and that formal systems need to be put in place.


Angela Melville
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Email: angela.melville@flinders.edu.au.

Darren Hincks
Flinders Law School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

    Legal novices are generally not very well educated in the do’s and don’ts of empirical legal research. This article lays out the general principles and discusses the most important stumbling blocks on the way forward. The presentation starts at the formulation of a research question. Next, the methodology of descriptive research (operationalization and measurement, sampling and selection bias) is briefly addressed. The main part of the article discusses the methodology of explanatory research (causal inference, experimental and quasi-experimental research designs, statistical significance, effect size). Medical malpractice law is used as a central source of illustration.


Ben C.J. van Velthoven
Associate professor of Law and Economics at Leiden Law School. I wish to thank Nienke van der Linden, Ali Mohammad and Charlotte Vrendenbargh from Leiden Law School and two anonymous reviewers and the editors of this journal for helpful comments on earlier drafts.
Artikel

Access_open On Experiments in Empirical Legal Research

Journal Law and Method, March 2016
Authors Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos and Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.
Abstract

    The current paper presents some observations on experiments in empirical legal research. The paper notes some strengths and weakness of the experimental method. The paper distinguishes between experiments run in controlled laboratory settings and experiments conducted in field settings and notes the different goals the different types of experiments generally have. The paper identifies important stumbling blocks that legal researchers who are new to setting up experiments may face and proposes that focusing the research in a constructive and independent way is important to overcome these problems. The necessity of running multiple studies to overcome other problems are discussed as well. When conducted in this way, experiments may serve an important role in the field of empirical legal studies and may help to further explore the exciting issues of law, society, and human behavior.


Prof. dr. Kees van den Bos

Mr. Liesbeth Hulst B.Sc., M.Sc.

    In this paper, an attempt is made to work out a methodology for comparative legal research, which goes beyond the ‘functional method’ or methodological scepticism.
    The starting point is the idea that we need a ‘toolbox’, not a fixed methodological road map, and that a lot of published, but largely unnoticed, research outside rule and case oriented comparative law offers varying approaches, which could usefully be applied in comparative research. Six methods have been identified: the functional method, the structural one, the analytical one, the law-in-context method, the historical method, and the common core method. Basically, it is the aim of the research and the research question that will determine which methods could be useful. Moreover, different methods may be combined, as they are complementary and not mutually exclusive.This paper focuses on scholarly comparative legal research, not on the use of foreign law by legislators or courts, but, of course, the methodological questions and answers will largely overlap.


Mark Van Hoecke
Professor of Comparative Law at Queen Mary University of London, and Professor of Legal Theory and Comparative Law at Ghent University

    In this article the Think-Aloud Method, a method used in problem solving research in Psychology, is used in legal research to gather data on how novices, expert beginners and experts read, structure and analyse legal decisions. In the Dutch legal system decisions by judges are a major source of law. So it is important that law students learn to read, structure and analyse legal decisions. However, reading and understanding a decision does not go without saying, it has to be learned. The data we gather using the Think-Aloud Method are used to improve instruction to support the effective and efficient learning of comprehending legal decisions. We describe the Think-Aloud Method, our experimental design and our approach for analysing the protocols.


Dr. Antoinette Muntjewerff
Dr. A. Muntjewerff is Assistant Professor of Legal Theory at the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam. She has a Masters in Social Science, a Masters in Law, and a PhD in Computer Science & Law; she studied Computer Science (more specifically Artificial Intelligence).

    Public law is sometimes said to deal with distributive justice. Such allocation issues are at least very dominant when public authorities grant only a limited number of public rights (authorizations, subsidies, etc.) and the number of applicants exceeds this maximum. The characteristics common to these ’limited public rights’ raise the question whether there are some general allocation rules applying to any allocation of limited public rights. This article shows how economic allocation theory can be helpful in constructing general allocation rules as a corollary of general legal principles. Allocation theory turns out to provide for general concepts and results clarifying general allocation rules and revealing mutual connections. Extending this allocation perspective from limited public rights to public law in general requires the hidden allocation issues in public law to be unveiled.


Johan Mr.dr. Wolswinkel
C.J. Wolswinkel LLM MSc PhD is Assistant Professor at the VU University Amsterdam and participates in the research programme Public Contracts: Law and Governance of the VU Centre for Law and Governance. This article expands some methodological issues developed in his PhD thesis De verdeling van schaarse publiekrechtelijke rechten. Op zoek naar algemene regels van verdelingsrecht (The Hague: Boom Juridische uitgevers 2013).

    This article addresses the problem of qualitative interviewing in the field of legal studies, and more precisely the practice of interviewing judges. In the last five years the authors of this article conducted two different research projects which involved interviewing judges as a research method. In this article the authors share their experience and views on the qualitative interviewing method, and provide the reader with an overview of the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ attached to this tool, but also its advantages and disadvantages.


Urszula Jaremba
Urszula Jaremba is an Assistant Professor of EU Law at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)

Elaine Dr. Mak
Elaine Mak is Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law (Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands)
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