Empirical Methodologies Knowledge and Expertise: A ‘Necessary’ Skill for Lawyers?

Hutchinson, Terry (2016) Empirical Methodologies Knowledge and Expertise: A ‘Necessary’ Skill for Lawyers? In van Klink, Bart & de Vries, Ubaldus (Eds.) Academic Learning in Law: Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences. Edward Elgar Publishers, Cheltenham, United Kingdom, pp. 142-159.

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Legal training focuses on the study of the nature of legal rules using ‘legal reasoning’. This emphasis on rules has the potential to obscure the importance of facts in the determination of the law. Judges use general facts about the world in developing and interpreting the law in addition to the facts they use that are specific to the dispute between the parties. Practicing lawyers present versions of the facts as truth in arguing their client’s case in court. Facts about society also provide an evidence base for lawmakers to formulate policy and draft new laws and rules. ‘Evidence-based’ practice is used widely in the fields of medicine and business. This chapter describes evidence-based practice. It argues that facts about society gleaned from social research form a legitimate evidence base that is important for legislative reform. An evidence-based approach seems an obvious step in formulating effective laws and providing legal solutions to social problems. Common sense suggests that the existing social evidence base should be used to assist legislators in developing and ensuring well-founded public policies leading to sound legislation. However, in law reform, the evidence base is often overshadowed by populist perceptions and political ideology. A recent legislative amendment to youth justice sentencing options provides a pertinent case study where the evidence base was largely disregarded.

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ID Code: 99626
Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: empirical method, legal research, legal education, evidence base
DOI: 10.4337/9781784714895.00017
ISBN: 9781784714888
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 29 Sep 2016 23:04
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2017 02:42

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