Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities

Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities


A unique book on the principles and practicalities of legal research


Editors: Laura Cahillane and Jennifer  Schweppe | ISBN: 978-1-905536-76-4   | Format and Price: Paperback €35 | Publication Date:  June 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.

Content includes

Introduction: Methods and Methodologies in Legal Research: Framing the Context,  Laura Cahillane and Jennifer Schweppe

Chapter 1: ” Doctrinal Legal Method (Black-Letterism): Assumptions, Commitments and Shortcomings”, Professor Shane Kilcommins, School of Law, University of Limerick.

Chapter 2: “Doctrinal Analysis: The Real ‘Law in Action'”,  Dr Rónán Kennedy, School of Law, NUI Galway.

Chapter 3:  “The Comparative Method Method in Legal Research: The Art of Justifying Choices “,  Dr Marie-Luce Paris, Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin.

Chapter 4: “The Use of History in Law: Avoiding the Pitfalls”,  Dr Laura Cahillane, School of Law, University of Limerick.

Chapter 5: ” Legal  Material and The Use of Historical Research”,  Dr Thomas Mohr, School of Law, University College Dublin.

Chapter 6: Community-based Research – Dr Mary Rogan, School of Social Sciences and Law, Dublin Institute of Technology

Chapter 7: “Socio-Legal Methodology: Conceptual Underpinnings, Justifications and Practical Pitfalls”,  Dr Darren O’Donovan, Bond University, Australia.

Chapter 8: “Getting Down and Dirty: The Case for Empirical Legal Research”,  Professor Michael Doherty, Department of Law, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

Chapter 9: Participatory Research: Potential and Pitfalls,  Professor Fiona de Londras, Durham Law School, Durham University

Chapter 10: “Empirical Studies in Contract – The Way Forward?”,  Professor Sally Wheeler, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast

Chapter 11: “An Introduction to Research Ethics in Legal Scholarship”,  Hope Davidson and Jennifer Schweppe, University of Limerick

Who Should Buy This Book?

Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities is essential reading for all law students, legal researchers and legal academics. This book will also be of great interest to law firms, legal librarians,  know-how officers, etc.


About the Editors

Laura Cahillane is a lecturer in Constitutional Law at the University of Limerick.

Jennifer  Schweppe is a lecturer in law at the University of Limerick.



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