Criticisms of the growing field of empirical legal studies by UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge were issued in such broad brush strokes that he ended up blasting just about every law academic engaged in any sort of interdisciplinary work, especially so if the academic seeks to examine data of some sort. The main claims showed up recently in a National Law Journal article, which quoted Bainbridge:
“A lot of the people I see who are empiricists, often with doctorates in the social sciences, aren’t very good lawyers,” he said. “I’ve read numerous papers that just got the law wrong. The problem is that we’re hiring people with Ph.D.s in other fields, but their law credentials are middling at best. Someone who is a brilliant economist wants to be in a economics department, so we get second-rate lawyers who are second-rate in their academic field.”
Perhaps phrasing the criticism in that way touched a nerve with Josh Wright, a law professor at George Mason University who holds both a PhD in economics and a law degree from UCLA. Wright responds at Truth on the Market, noting among other things that Bainbridge is asserting many facts about the state of the world without actually pointing to any evidence (much less adequately testing the evidence once it is identified).