Haley Zelenka | What Are the Methods of Legal Research?

Haley Zelenka

July 4, 2022

Haley Zelenka

According to Haley Zelenka, Legal research methodologies are categorized by type, including Analytical, Qualitative, Comparative, and Quantitative. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. These methods can help you choose the best research approach for your situation. Here are some examples of legal research methods. For example, case studies are a valuable research method. These studies use various techniques and data to find the best explanations for legal issues. The disadvantages of case studies include the risk of researcher bias, limited generalisability, and time involved in learning new approaches. Nevertheless, a case study can reinforce and strengthen external and internal validity.

Analytical legal research by Haley Zelenka

There are several different types of analytical legal research. The comparative legal analysis compares laws of other jurisdictions or regions to determine the most applicable to the country in question. This type of research helps policymakers adopt a tested legal system. The objective of comparative analysis is to improve a particular country’s legal system. It is also useful when making historical comparisons. While the methods used in both ways have their benefits, they have essential differences.

Evaluative research uses data to analyze a legal system. This type of legal research uses data to identify underlying patterns and trends in a legal system. Detailed guidelines on using empirical research methods are available here. Essentially, this legal research involves four steps: defining a hypothesis, coding and gathering data, and comparing data to the idea. An empirical study can help identify and understand inconsistencies within the legal system and help policymakers make informed decisions.

Quantitative legal research

The study of statistical data is inevitable in the law, especially concerning the social, economic, demographic, and political implications of legal issues. Quantitative legal research insists on scientific measurement of phenomena, appropriate generalization, and systematic analysis. It has many practical legal applications, including policy-making and implementation functions.

Haley Zelenka pointed out that it is essential to develop a theoretical foundation for the research to provide a scientific justification for the study’s findings. Developing a theoretical framework will also help you determine critical concepts related to the research question. It is important to review relevant literature to create a research question. Finally, conduct a literature review to determine which ideas are crucial for the research question. In doing so, you can develop a methodologically sound and logical framework.

Qualitative legal research by Haley Zelenka

The study of statistical data is an inevitable part of any field of study, and it is necessary for many reasons, such as the socio-economic and demographic factors that affect the practice of law. Quantitative legal research emphasizes the measurement of phenomena and their appropriate generalization based on data analysis. These are essential for legal research and are also helpful for policy-making and implementation functions. The process of design and analysis of statistics includes the formulation of hypotheses and selecting an appropriate sample size.

The methods of qualitative legal research are divided into two types: descriptive and exploratory. The former is used to study the “what” of a subject, while the latter aims to establish a theory that explains why a particular phenomenon exists. Both qualitative and quantitative legal research involves regular interaction between researchers and study subjects.  This type of research helps the legal practitioner to understand and analyze a situation or issue in a practical context.

Comparative legal research by Haley Zelenka

A common criticism of comparative legal research is that it lacks any method. Comparativists often treat the subject as tourists in a foreign city and describe differences in their jurisdiction. Comparativists should try to become professionals in their area. Various theoretical frameworks are helpful for other types of research.

Haley Zelenka noted that one approach to the study of law is known as functionalism. This approach focuses on differences rather than similarities and seeks to find the “better law” or ‘unify” legal orders. A similar approach is a functional analysis, which focuses on practical problems and conflicts of interest. Comparative legal research should be grounded in a helpful approach. This method also helps the researcher understand how to broaden the scope of his research. Comparative legal analysis requires a broader spectrum of questions but has a more practical focus.

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