My thanks to Bill Henderson for his introduction, especially the last paragraph.
I am not a lawyer but a political scientist employed by a law school. My perspective on ELS is somewhere between a carpetbagger and a transplant. I share with my collaborators an interest in the law, but I am much more fascinated by the various models of human and institutional behavior implied by our research questions. Each one allows me to reach into my toolbox and pull out methods rarely used in political science, such as path analysis, structural equation modeling, network analysis or Weibull regression, in addition to probit, logit and ols. (I am fortunate to have access to the UCLA Statistical Consulting Group when I feel shaky ground.)
The variety of techniques that I and others deploy in ELS has me wondering about the processes by which other disciplines narrowed their toolsets. When I was in graduate school sociologists used ANOVA, economists used maximum likelihood and political scientists used logit and ols. There were some crossovers, but those were the exceptions. The methods in those fields have evolved as economists
invaded expanded their portfolio into the other disciplines, and the fields became more statistically sophisticated. Hiving persists nevertheless, and I suspect that this is because the metrics are mature and research design is cumulative. Introducing a new technique to a field is not merely a question of teaching the methodology but also of gaining a foothold in the literature. The slow-motion adoption of social network analysis into political science is a good example. It's relatively easy to measure a network of individuals engaged in governing, but the language necessary to describe it as a political party is still evolving.
Which leads me to wonder about the utility of having a set of metrics and tools unique to ELS. An ELS toolbox would be the dialect of empirical legal studies, aiding the transmission of knowledge within our group while setting boundaries around what constitutes our field. Is this likely to happen? Probably not. We are not isolated enough. We don't have graduate students in the traditional sense, and our mandate is to produce new professionals not clones of ourselves. So we are in an odd position, building a field that is defined by the use of social science research methods, but without a set of methods to call our own and no prospect of creating one. This might be an advantage, as it gives us the liberty to borrow from everywhere, but it leaves open the question: what defines ELS? Is it what we study, how we study it or who does the studying?