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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Mathias Siems

Siems, Mathias & Mac Sithigh, Daithi (2017). Why Do We Do What We Do? Comparing Legal Methods in Five Law Schools through Survey Evidence. In Rethinking Legal Scholarship: A Transatlantic Interchange. van Gestel, Rob Micklitz, Hans & Rubin, Edward L. Cambridge Cambridge University Press. 31-83.

Author(s) from Durham


For the purpose of this paper we conducted an empirical survey of academic
staff at two German law schools (Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf; Bucerius Law
School), two UK ones (University of East Anglia; University of Edinburgh) and one
Irish one (Trinity College, Dublin). We asked the legal scholars to indicate to what extent
they identify with legal research as part of humanities, as part of social sciences,
and as akin to the analysis of law in legal practice. In this paper we present and discuss
our results, using tools of both classical and compositional statistics. We also relate our
data to contextual information about these legal scholars (e.g., training, career stage) as
well as institutional and country differences. Our main general finding is that scholars of
the German law schools have a relatively strong preference for practical legal research
and scholars of the UK and Irish law schools a relatively strong preference for law as
humanities. Some of our specific findings are that international legal scholars tend to be
closer to the social sciences and that younger scholars and private lawyers tend to be
closer to practical legal research. We also observe some signs of convergence since,
across the five law schools, scholars told us that they tend to use practical legal research
methods less often, and social sciences methods more often, than ten years ago.