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Empirical Legal Studies

Many scholars consider Cornell Law School to be the birthplace of the modern empirical legal studies movement. The field galvanized in the early 1980s, largely spearheaded by Professor Theodore Eisenberg's groundbreaking studies of civil rights cases.

Eisenberg’s scholarship upended conventional wisdom that these cases were unduly clogging courts. Eisenberg was foremost among a growing cadre of legal scholars to exploit sophisticated statistical tools to systematically explore a wide array of legal issues. Since then, and propelled by Eisenberg’s pioneering scholarship, Cornell emerged as a leading center for empirical legal studies–a field that has altered the ways in which scholars, judges, litigants, and policy-makers think about and approach many legal issues. The launch of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies in the early 2000s, edited at Cornell Law School and a leading journal in the field, cemented Cornell Law School’s status as a hub for what is now an important intellectual movement embraced by a growing number of scholars around the world. A cadre of Cornell law school faculty, often in collaboration with colleagues from a diverse array of social science disciplines, are widely acknowledged as among the most influential scholars in the empirical legal studies field.

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