The need for empirical research is bubbling up everywhere. A major case in point is the theory and practice of law. ProtoGenie’s inexpensive, easy-to-use online authoring design for supporting empirical research makes it uniquely ready for applications in professions that do not have histories and cultures of empirical research and are just discovering the critical need for it. This is true in spades for the Law, where publications on this extraordinary event are appearing in law school reviews and other publications and where courses on empirical research are popping up in law school curricula across the country and the world. Evidence of the burgeoning interest in empirical research in the law profession is exemplified by an article appearing in the May 4, 2015 edition of the Harvard Law Bulletin by Elaine Mcardle entitled “New Empiricists.” Her opening line is “In law’s new frontiers, data may be as important as precedent.” Quoting a Professor of Law, D. James Greiner, she writes “While empirical legal studies is not at all new, it is experiencing enormous growth and is arguable the hottest area of legal thought today.” Regarding costs, Mcardle cites another source that says “although conducting rigorously devised and executed studies is expensive, the social harm of not aggressively investigating what works and what doesn’t must be weighed against the cost,
Support for empirical research in the Law poses a special challenge because by training, experience, and self-selection law professionals do not think the same as social scientists. In many cases. they are still skeptical of what they consider positivist science and are concerned that the philosophy of behavioral research is irrelevant or even antithetical to legal reasoning. Given their commitment to justice and truth in serving people, they are concerned about the validity and reliability of research results. At a more practical level, they are concerned about the cost of empirical research and about the skills that are necessary for sound empirical research.
ProtoGenie is uniquely prepared to meet these challenges in two ways. The first is the nature of PG itself, which was designed and developed to provide powerful and easy-to-use tools for empirical research at dramatically lower costs to users than other sources of research support. At the core of this design is online assistance in selecting the right research design and ensuring validity and reliability. The second way that PG is uniquely prepared to meet the challenges of support for empirical research in the Law, is in our intimate in-house knowledge of the law profession in the person of Professor Emeritus William Boyd, College of Law, University of Arizona, author of the seminal work on “computers in the law and law in computers” and major contributor to the design of ProtoGenie. This deep connection between empirical research and the legal profession is also served by Gail Boyd, attorney and special advisory to ProtoGenie.
Given our intimate knowledge of the law profession and its needs, we can expect that PG in the Law will become a major application of ProtoGenie and ProtoGenie will make a major contribution to the growth of empirical legal research.