Research & Scholarship

The Wisconsin Approach

    Faculty Activities and Scholarship

  • Michele LaVigne gave two presentations on the effects of clients' language impairments in September: at the Ramsey County Public Defender Training Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at the Colorado State Public Defender Annual Conference in Snowmass, Colorado.

  • Carrie Sperling was a keynote speaker at "With Conviction: Reporting on Science in the Courtroom," a workshop organized by the University of Arizona School of Journalism in September. In addition to presenting the keynote on shaken baby syndrome, Sperling served on panels on shaken baby syndrome and on bite mark evidence.

  • Keith Findley presented "Flawed Science and the New Wave of Innocents" at "Wrongful Convictions and the DNA Revolution: 25 Years of Freeing the Innocent," a symposium hosted by Boston's Northeastern University School of Law in September.

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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