The Empirical Research Network (ERN) at Melbourne Law School brings together academics undertaking empirical research across the Faculty, building a community of practice in this area.
The activities of the Network include:
- Seminars on particular empirical methods, and tools that assist empirical research.
- Work-in-progress seminars, featuring work occurring within the Faculty, which particularly focus on the methodological decisions and challenges facing a particular piece of research.
- Seminars by Faculty visitors undertaking empirical research, and individuals from other Faculties looking to collaborate with legal researchers.
- Building a mailing list, expertise list and community among those undertaking empirical research, to allow effective communication and the building of connections between scholars.
- Supporting empirical teaching, including in the JD, LLM and PhD programmes.
- Providing a supportive environment for the development of grant proposals, including by demonstrating a core of empirical research in the Faculty.
- Sponsorship and support of PhD students.
- Methodological training for Faculty members, and linking Faculty members with training available in other parts of the university.
The Importance of Empiricial Legal Research
Legal scholars are increasingly attuned to the substantial benefits that can be derived from empirical and socio-legal scholarship. Empirical legal research offers new and challenging insights into law in the real world and how law operates in practice.
Empirical legal research involves the use of direct methods to study how law operates in practice. As noted by Genn, Partington and Wheeler, ‘empirical research helps us to understand the law better and an empirical understanding of the law in action helps us to understand society better’. Therefore, empirical research facilitates investigation beyond ‘law on the books’ to consider legal results.