Legal Reading Group: Qualitative Methods for Law Review Writing

Postdoctoral Fellow Szilárd Gáspár-Szilágyi introduces 'Qualitative Methods for Law Review Writing', by Katerina Linos and Melissa Carlson, The University of Chicago Law Review (2017).

Typical law review articles not only clarify what the law is, but also examine the history of the current rules, assess the status quo, and present reform proposals. To make theoretical arguments more plausible, legal scholars frequently use examples: they draw on cases, statutes, political debates, and other sources. But legal scholars often pick their examples unsystematically and explore them armed with only the tools for doctrinal analysis. Unsystematically chosen examples can help develop plausible theories, but they rarely suffice to convince readers that these theories are true, especially when plausible alternative explanations exist. This project presents methodological insights from multiple social science disciplines and from history that could strengthen legal scholarship by improving research design, case selection, and case analysis. We describe qualitative techniques rarely found in law review writing, such as process tracing, theoretically informed sampling, and most similar case design, among others. We provide examples of best practice and illustrate how each technique can be adapted for legal sources and arguments.


The legal reading group meets on a regular basis to discuss leading publications on international courts and tribunals. The aim is to develop our understanding of an article/book chapter and how it might be relevant for our own projects, through sharing insights on its substance, merits, and broader context. The reading group managed by PluriCourts, but open to everyone that is interested.

Published Jan. 18, 2018 2:57 PM - Last modified July 29, 2018 9:39 PM