Research & Scholarship

The Wisconsin Approach

Faculty Activities and Scholarship

  • Michele LaVigne presented "Understanding your clients' language deficits" and "All that jazz: The importance of evidentiary foundations" at the Phoenix office of the Federal Public Defender of Arizona in May. The presentations were for Federal Defender staff and Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys. Video of the presentations will be shown for attorneys and staff in the Yuma, Tuscon and Flagstaff Federal Defender offices.

  • In May, Jonathan Scharrer presented "All Roads Lead to Rome: Paths to Advancing and Teaching Social Justice" at the 2017 AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education.

  • In May, Gretchen Viney presented "Serving as Guardian ad Litem in Divorce Actions" at Guardian ad Litem Training 2017, sponsored by Pinnacle Seminars for the State Bar of Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin faculty members share a commitment to excellence in research, embracing a wide variety of substantive concerns and methodological approaches. The faculty has long been known for its interest in interdisciplinary work and for its commitment to a law-in-action approach to scholarship.

For Wisconsin scholars, no matter how interesting or elegant the underlying theory, Wisconsin's law-in-action approach challenges them to answer the question: "Why should this matter to people in the real world?" In contrast to legal scholars whose work is theory-based, Wisconsin scholars tend to begin with an observed, real-world problem or phenomenon and then seek to explain it and to put it into a larger theoretical context.

Much of the research undertaken at Wisconsin is devoted to explaining how law and legal institutions work and often to understanding why law and legal institutions might not be working as intended. The Wisconsin faculty contextualizes law, studying it as one of many social processes that may shape behavior. Many faculty members are active in the Law & Society Association, an international organization of scholars who study the interrelation of society and the legal process; indeed, the current Wisconsin faculty includes three LSA past presidents.

The work of the Wisconsin faculty is not geographically bounded. Though a majority study U.S. law, a growing number explore law in less familiar settings and are focusing their research on the workings of law in countries throughout the world.

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