Standardization of State Exams or Competition in the Federal System?

Abstract | German legal education is in part determined by federal law and in part by the local law of the German states. In order to ensure the compatibility of the examinations the Conference of the Ministers of Justice has discussed a variety of measures. Unfortunately, this discussion was not accompanied by empirical research on the existence and impact of such differences. However, a statistical study about students moving from one state to the other gives, at least, hints about this question. Together with other available data on the university part of the State Examination the study provides arguments why the current differences between the legal education statutes of the German states are less important than differences in the...

Is There a Relationship Between Shareholder Protection and Stock Market Development?

Does the quality of legal and other institutions make a difference to economic development and growth? In their very well-known studies of the relation between law and finance, Andrei Shleifer and his collaborators (in particular Rafael La Porta and Simeon Djankov) found evidence to support this claim. Their econometric analysis showed that higher levels of shareholder and creditor protection were correlated with increased financial development. This work became highly influential among researchers and policy-makers. Since the mid-1990s, the widespread belief has been that strengthening share-holder and creditor rights will lead to improved financial outcomes. This view became a mainstay of global policy initiatives, including...

Are apex court judges politically biased?

The question whether judges are politically biased is highly disputed. Some consider it a heresy even to ask the question, while others believe it to be a self-evident truism. If we look at how controversial the nomination procedures for new justices to the U.S. Supreme Court are, we see that most participants in the U.S. political process at least believe that justices are influenced by their political ideology. There is some empirical evidence confirming this belief. The seminal contribution on this issue is a study by Jeffrey Segal and Albert Cover. The authors construct an ideology score for Supreme Court Justices, which is based on newspaper reports regarding these judges prior to their election to the Court. The study finds a high correlation between...

Augmented Doctrinal Reality Exploring and Analysing Judicial Discourse with Computer-Aided Methods

When I discuss empirical studies of law with legal scholars and law students in Europe, whether is in Germany, Belgium, France or Italy, one comment I often hear is “but this is not law”.  This is a remark worth exploring, because it tells us something important about the way academic lawyers conceive of their discipline and its object of study. I tell my bachelor students that there are basically two ways to approach the study of law. One is as product of society and as instrument of social control. Much of the political science law and courts literature as well as the law & economics literature follow this approach. These literatures are concerned with...

What do Lawyers Have to Count (on)? On the Role of Lawʼs|Empirics in European Legal Studies

Abstract | In Continental Europe, traditional legal thinking is rather remote from empirical research and statistics. Nonetheless lawyers have been trying for more than one hundred years to fuse knowledge about society’s “isʼs and oughts”. Their attempts had to continuously adapt to changes in the dominant intellectual paradigms, and are now framed as discursive argumentation about different normatively infused descriptions of the world. As such, empirical discourse is indispensable for the law and will shape legal education in the future. Complex legal realities require statistical legal thinking. The new academic blog Law's|Empirics seeks to document...