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Legal Methodology: Relevant Literature

By Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal

Eduardo Sánchez Madrigal is a master’s student and research assistant at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. His research interests include human rights and public international law.

Legal Methodology: Relevant Literature

Main Titles


Thomas M J Möllers, Legal Methods, Hart Publishing (2020).

This work provides lawyers with more than 100 legal interpretation figures that are used by lawyers worldwide to justify their legal decisions. The book puts lawyers in a position, to develop – step by step – a solution for a hitherto unsolved legal problem in such a way that it convinces the opposing party of the content of his/her solution. The book covers

  • legal sources
  • classic and modern figures of interpretation
  • the challenging concretisation and construction of law
  • influence of the constitution and European law as a higher-ranking law
  • determination of the limits of permissible further development of the law
  • and, very relevant for practice, the hermeneutics of facts

The book benefits from a combination of classic and modern methodology, a lively presentation with numerous examples from literature and jurisprudence and coverage of several cases for in-depth reflection. The work will be a significant tool for all those interested in the basics of law.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 96.00

P. Ishwara Bhat, Idea and Methods of Legal Research, Oxford University Press (2019).

The book unearths the way in which thinking process is to be streamlined in research; the manner in which a theme is to be built, and the paths through which notions of objectivity, feminism, ethics and purposive character of knowledge are to be internalized in legal research. The proposed book has five components. The first part deals with general matters such as meaning, evolution, and scope of legal research; systematization of thinking process; objectivity and ethics in legal research; and building a theme through an appropriate research plan. The second part engages with various ways through which doctrinal legal research can be conducted. This includes doctrinal, analytical, historical, comparative, and philosophical methods of conducting legal research. Part Three unravels discussion on non-doctrinal legal research by highlighting empirical, qualitative, and quantitative methods of legal research. It also catalogues the tools employed for non-doctrinal legal research and explains the method of using them. Part four takes to the fields where combination of doctrinal and non-doctrinal legal research can be attempted. Multi-method legal research, policy research, action research, and feminist legal research occupy this field. A point emphasized in various chapters is that legal research cannot afford to have compartmentalization of methods, and that the researcher has to be eclectic and inter-disciplinary in his approach. The final part reflects over the steps involved in research-based critical legal writing, as distinct from client-related or norm-creating legal writing.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 43.99

Dawn Watkins and Mandy Burton (editors), Research Methods for Law, Routledge, 2nd Edition (2018).

Explaining in clear terms some of the main methodological approaches to legal research, the chapters in this edited collection are written by specialists in their fields, researching in a variety of jurisdictions.

Covering a range of topics from Feminist Approaches to Law and Economics, each contributor addresses the topic of ‘lay decision makers in the legal system’ from their particular methodological perspective, explaining how they would approach the issue and discussing the suitability of their particular method. This focus on one main topic allows the reader to draw comparisons between methods with relative ease. The broad range of contributors makes Research Methods in Law well suited to an international audience, and it is ideal reading for PhD students in law, undergraduate dissertation students in law, LL.M Research students and early year researchers.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 96.00 (hardback) and £ 26.39 (paperback)

Thomas S. Ulen (editor), Methodologies of Law and Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing (2017).

When law and economics first became an important part of the legal academy, it was a relatively straightforward application of microeconomic theory to legal issues. However, in the past 40 years the field has expanded its toolkit dramatically. This latest volume in the acclaimed Encyclopedia of Law and Economics maps the methodological territory in law and economics with a series of entries by distinguished scholars. These entries introduce and evaluate the law and economics mechanisms, including: the roles of microeconomic theory, public and social choice, history, complexity theory, philosophy, comparative law studies, behavioral economics and empirical techniques. Each one introduces a methodology, demonstrates its importance to the field of law and economics and assists the reader in navigating the leading literature on that topic. This volume will be an essential reference for all those who research or teach law and economics, law and society or empirical methods in law.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 116.00

Andrea Bianchi, Daniel Peat, and Matthew Windsor (editors), Interpretation in International Law, Oxford University Press (2015).

International lawyers have long recognised the importance of interpretation to their academic discipline and professional practice. As new insights on interpretation abound in other fields, international law and international lawyers have largely remained wedded to a rule-based approach, focusing almost exclusively on the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Such an approach neglects interpretation as a distinct and broader field of theoretical inquiry. Interpretation in International Law brings international legal scholars together to engage in sustained reflection on the theme of interpretation. The book is creatively structured around the metaphor of the game, which captures and illuminates the constituent elements of an act of interpretation. The object of the game of interpretation is to persuade the audience that one’s interpretation of the law is correct. The rules of play are known and complied with by the players, even though much is left to their skills and strategies. There is also a meta-discourse about the game of interpretation – ‘playing the game of game-playing’ – which involves consideration of the nature of the game, its underlying stakes, and who gets to decide by what rules one should play.
Through a series of diverse contributions, Interpretation in International Law reveals interpretation as an inescapable feature of all areas of international law. It will be of interest and utility to all international lawyers whose work touches upon theoretical or practical aspects of interpretation.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 95.00

Other Relevant Titles by Year


Kees van den Bos, Empirical Legal Research: A Primer, Edward Elgar Publishing (2020).

This exciting textbook introduces the basic tenets and methodologies of empirical legal research. Explaining how to initiate and conduct empirical research projects, how to evaluate the methods used and how to analyze and engage with the results, Kees van den Bos provides a vibrant and reliable primer for students and practitioners looking to engage actively in legal research. Key features include:

  • A straightforward, non-technical and accessible style to engage new researchers in empirical legal research
  • A step-by-step guide to empirical research, leading students through establishing and building a research project, to interpreting and reporting on empirical data
  • An exploration of an array of methodologies to gather empirical data, including interviews, surveys and experiments, providing plenty of avenues for research
  •  Exercises to allow students to put new skills into practice and suggested further reading to deepen students’ understanding of new topics.

Offering an enthusiastic introduction to a valuable subject, this is crucial reading for advanced law students hoping to pursue their own empirical legal research projects. Its insights into cutting-edge research methodologies will also be of benefit to students with a keen interest in the sociology of law, as well as socio-legal studies more widely.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 85.00 (hardback) and £ 25.99 (paperback)


Łucja Biel, Jan Engberg, Rosario Martín Ruano, and Vilelmini Sosoni(editors), Research Methods in Legal Translation and Interpreting: Crossing Methodological Boundaries, Routledge (2019).

The field of Legal translation and interpreting has strongly expanded over recent years. As it has developed into an independent branch of Translation Studies, this book advocates for a substantiated discussion of methods and methodology, as well as knowledge about the variety of approaches actually applied in the field. It is argued that, complex and multifaceted as it is, legal translation calls for research that might cross boundaries across research approaches and disciplines in order to shed light on the many facets of this social practice. The volume addresses the challenge of methodological consolidation, triangulation and refinement. The work presents examples of the variety of theoretical approaches which have been developed in the discipline and of the methodological sophistication which is currently being called for. In this regard, by combining different perspectives, they expand our understanding of the roles played by legal translators and interpreters, who emerge as linguistic and intercultural mediators dealing with a rich variety of legal texts; as knowledge communicators and as builders of specialised knowledge; as social agents performing a socially-situated activity; as decision-makers and agents subject to and redefining power relations, and as political actors shaping legal cultures and negotiating cultural identities, as well as their own professional identity.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 96.00

Rossana Deplano(editor), Pluralising International Legal Scholarship: The Promise and Perils of Non-Doctrinal Research Methods, Edward Elgar Publishing (2019).

This unique book examines the role non-doctrinal research methods play in international legal research: what do they add to the traditional doctrinal analysis of law and what do they neglect? Focusing on empirical and socio-legal methods, it provides a critical evaluation of the breadth, scope and limits of the representation of international law created by these often-neglected methodologies. The book examines whether non-doctrinal methods promise certainty and objectivity. Chapters explore how adopting social research methods allows artificial landscapes of international law to be constructed, with the aim of aiding our understanding of its normative content. In doing so, the contributors place the normative content of international law into the realm of scientific investigation, providing a critical distance from its principled roots. This insightful book argues that any research methodology, whether doctrinal or non-doctrinal, involves a necessarily partial and incomplete vision of international law. Hence, the critical variation provided by non-doctrinal methods is a useful means for supplementing, rather than replacing, doctrinal analysis. Accessible and engaging, Pluralising International Legal Scholarship will be a key resource for international law scholars, especially those specializing in legal methods. The interdisciplinary nature of the study will also appeal to students and academics working in the fields of international relations, international organization and social research methodology.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 80.00

Rob van Gestel and Andreas Lienhard (editors), Evaluating Academic Legal Research in Europe: The Advantage of Lagging Behind, Edward Elgar Publishing (2019).

Legal academics in Europe publish a wide variety of materials including books, articles and essays, in an assortment of languages, and for a diverse readership. As a consequence, this variety can pose a problem for the evaluation of academic legal research. This thought-provoking book offers an overview of the legal and policy norms, methods and criteria applied in the evaluation of academic legal research, from a comparative perspective. The expert contributions explore developments relating to professional versus academic publications, editorial review versus peer review, rankings of journals and law schools versus other reputation mechanisms and a range of other evaluation practices and their intended and unintended effects. Analysing research evaluation practices across more than ten jurisdictions and multiple contexts, this insightful book reveals how evaluation practices differ across Europe. Through this analysis, the book exposes a range of possibilities for further debate and study. Engaging and topical, Evaluating Academic Legal Research in Europe will be valuable reading for legal academics, university and faculty managers, higher education policy makers and administrators as well as editors of law journals, legal publishers and research foundation and funding bodies.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 120.00


Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang (editors), Research Handbook on the Sociology of International Law, Edward Elgar Publishing (2018).

This innovative Research Handbook explores recent developments at the intersection of international law, sociology and social theory. In doing so, it highlights anew the potential contribution of sociological methods and theories to the study of international law, and illustrates their use in the examination of contemporary problems of practical interest to international lawyers. The diverse body of expert contributors discuss a wide range of methodologies and approaches – including those inspired by the giants of twentieth century social thought, as well as emergent strands such as computational linguistics, performance theory and economic sociology. With chapters exploring topical areas including the globalization of law, economic globalization, property rights, global governance, international legal counsel, social networks, and anthropology, the Research Handbook presents a number of paths for future research in international legal scholarship. Full of original insight, this interdisciplinary Research Handbook will be essential reading for academics and scholars in international law and sociology, as well as postgraduate students. Lawyers practicing in international law will also find this a stimulating read.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 162.00 (hardback) and £ 32.00 (paperback)

Lina Kestemont (editor), Handbook on Legal Methodology, Intersentia (2018).

Legal scholarship is one of the oldest academic disciplines, and the study of law has been passed on from generation to generation as an implicit “savoir faire”. It was presumed that all legal scholars understood the methodology of legal research, making its explicit clarification and justification unnecessary. Over the last decade, the lack of an explicit methodological tradition has become problematic due to the growing interdisciplinary collaboration at universities and the increased importance of external funding, often granted by mixed experts panels. It is therefore time for legal scholarship to make its implicit methodology explicit. This handbook – created on the basis of a PhD project defended at KU Leuven Law Faculty in 2016 – carefully describes the methodology of traditional legal research in four sections:

– First, the different types of research objectives that legal scholars can pursue are clarified.
– Secondly, as each type of research objective calls for its own methodology, their methodological features are discussed individually.

– Thirdly, after looking into each research objective separately, three overall methodological features applicable to all are addressed.

– Fourthly, the theory of the previous parts is transformed into a practical methodological guide. This guide serves as a useful instrument for legal scholars who aim to design or reflect on research projects.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 50.00

Frans L. Leeuw and Hans Schmeets, Empirical Legal Research: A Guidance Book for Lawyers, Legislators and Regulators, Edward Elgar Publishing (2018).

Empirical Legal Research describes how to investigate the roles of legislation, regulation, legal policies and other legal arrangements at play in society. It is invaluable as a guide to legal scholars, practitioners and students on how to do empirical legal research, covering history, methods, evidence, growth of knowledge and links with normativity. This multidisciplinary approach combines insights and approaches from different social sciences, evaluation studies, Big Data analytics and empirically informed ethics. The authors present an overview of the roots of this blossoming interdisciplinary domain, going back to legal realism, the fields of law, economics and the social sciences, and also to civilology and evaluation studies. The book addresses not only data analysis and statistics, but also how to formulate adequate research problems, to use (and test) different types of theories (explanatory and intervention theories) and to apply new forms of literature research to the field of law such as the systematic, rapid and realist reviews and synthesis studies. The choice and architecture of research designs, the collection of data, including Big Data, and how to analyze and visualize data are also covered. The book discusses the tensions between the normative character of law and legal issues and the descriptive and causal character of empirical legal research, and suggests ways to help handle this seeming disconnect. This comprehensive guide is vital reading for law practitioners as well as for students and researchers dealing with regulation, legislation and other legal arrangements.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 100.00 (hardback) and £ 31.95 (paperback)

Willem H. van Boom, Pieter Desmet, and Peter Mascini (editors), Empirical Legal Research in Action: Reflections on Methods and their Applications, Edward Elgar Publishing (2018).

Empirical legal research is a growing field of academic expertise, yet lawyers are not always familiar with the possibilities and limitations of the available methods. Empirical Legal Research in Action presents readers with first-hand experiences of empirical research on law and legal issues. The chapters, written by an international cast of scholars, reflect on the methods that they have applied in their own empirical work, spanning a wide breadth of research from psychological experiments in personal injury to field studies in sociology and political science. Empirical Legal Research in Action not only reviews the advantages, limitations and challenges that such methods pose but also considers the value of empirical research to lawyers and the law. Vitally, the contributions offer an academic reflection on methodological challenges, as well as the relevance, of empirical research for lawyers. This insightful book will be useful reading for academic researchers in law and for policymakers seeking to understand the methodological challenges of empirical work in legal research. Social sciences scholars will also find this book of interest to appreciate the multitude of methods in empirical legal research.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 100.00


Karl Riesenhuber (editor), European Legal Methodology, Intersentia (2017).

EU law is an autonomous legal system. It requires its own methodology. The contributions to this volume provide elements of a genuinely European legal method. They discuss the foundations of European legal methodology in Roman law and in the development of national legal methods in the 19th century as well as the economic and comparative background. Core issues of legal methods such as the sources of law, the interpretation of EU primary law and secondary legislation, the concretisation of general clauses, and judicial development of the law are also analysed. The temporal effects of EU directives on the one hand and of judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the other raise specific issues of EU law. Contributions are also devoted to issues of a multi-level legal system. Beyond general aspects, directives, in particular, raise special questions: what is their impact on the interpretation of national law; and what are the methodological consequences of a transposition of directives beyond their original scope (‘gold-plating’)? Further contributions inquire into methodological issues in contract law, employment law, company law, capital market law and competition law. They illustrate the general aspects of European legal methods with a view to specific applications and also reveal specific issues of methods which occur in these areas. Finally, legal methods from national perspectives of different Member States, namely France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, are examined. The authors reveal national traditions of legal methods and national preconceptions and illustrate the application of EU legal methods in different national contexts.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 148.00

Mike McConville and Wing Hong (Eric) Chui (editors), Research Methods for Law, Edinburgh University Press, 2nd Edition (2017).

Introduces students to legalistic, theoretical, empirical, comparative and cross-disciplinary research methods, grounded in working examples. Drawing on actual research projects, Research Methods for Law discusses how legal research as process impacts on research as product. The author team has a broad range of teaching and research experience in law, criminal justice and socio-legal studies, and give examples from real-life research products to illustrate the theory.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 29.99


Laura Cahillane and Jennifer Schweppe, Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities, Clarus Press (2016).

The transition from undergraduate study to postgraduate study in law has traditionally been somewhat seamless: students are typically enculturated into the discipline of law, and have engaged in a variety of writing and research exercises throughout their undergraduate degree. However, the nature of legal research is changing dramatically, with more emphasis being put on how we are researching, rather than what we are researching. Undergraduate students are increasingly engaging in primary research as part of their degree, and typically borrow from other disciplines to do so. The reason for this is that, to date, there has been little importance placed on research methods in law and this book aims to rectify this in a manner which is suitable for students not only in Ireland but internationally. Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities is tailored to the needs of researchers in examining varying methodological approaches from a practical perspective. In addition to the principal approaches now commonly used in legal research (the doctrinal method; the socio-legal method; the historical method and the comparative method) issues such as participatory and community-based research as well as empirical methods will also be examined by leading experts in their fields in a critical but clear manner. Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities has a practical focus.  The book outlines the various types of methodologies, with authors drawing on their own experiences and expertise and will examine the benefits and pitfalls involved in each method. This allows the reader to determine the usefulness of any method to their own research and aids them in employing these methods and avoiding any pitfalls.

Link to Publisher ǀ € 35.00


Emanuel V. Towfigh and Niels Petersen, Economic Methods for Lawyers, Edward Elgar Publishing (2015).

Responding to the growing importance of economic reasoning in legal scholarship, this innovative work provides an essential introduction to the economic tools which can usefully be employed in legal reasoning. It is geared specifically towards those without a great deal of exposure to economic thinking and provides law students, legal scholars and practitioners with a practical toolbox to shape their writing, understanding and case preparation. The book’s clear focus on economic methods poses a refreshing change to conventional textbooks in this area, which tend to focus on content-related theories. Recognising that it is often difficult to derive adequate conclusions for legal arguments without first understanding the methodological limitations of economic studies, this book provides a comprehensive coverage of the most important economic concepts in order to bridge this gap. These include:

  • game theory
  • public choice and social choice theory
  • behavioural economics
  • empirical research design
  • basic statistics.

Owing to its concise and accessible style, Economic Methods for Lawyers will provide an invaluable companion for legal scholars or practitioners who wish to utilise economic methods for developing legal argument.

Link to Publisher ǀ £ 81.00 (hardback) and £ 26.95 (paperback)