New Legal Realism: A Promising Legal Theory For Interdisciplinary And Empirical Research About The 'Law-In-Action

A.C. Perez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


New Legal Realism (NLR) is a relevant theoretical strand advancing a constructive relationship between law and the social sciences. NLR broadens the 'scene' in legal studies by placing legal issues in their broader social contexts and follows the aspiration of the scientific study of law. Based on the literature review, this article presents a brief discussion on NLR. It argues that an NLR approach might be useful for carrying out research on compliance with (international) law in practice, i.e., the 'law-in-action'. This article finds that four main characteristics of NLR, mainly its law-centred, interdisciplinary, empirical, and constructive legal action character yields useful results to analyse States' compliance with the law. It concludes that an NLR approach contributes to moving from exploring law in books to investigate 'law-in-action'. This involves analysing compliance with the (international) law through domestic law and policy instruments, as well as compliance through social practices. This means to explore the social context within which the law operates. In other words, to investigate the impact of the law at the point of delivery (or the 'law-in-action'). The underlying purpose of this article is thus to call for collaborative action among legal and social scientific researchers by considering to adopt novel theories, such as NLR, to mix normative legal analysis with consideration of broader and holistic perspectives on the law. Lastly, due to the current research interests of the author, this article includes a brief reflection on adopting an NLR approach to analyse State Parties' compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Notably, in the available literature, this is an underexplored issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-228
Number of pages20
JournalNovum Jus
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • New Legal Realism
  • legal studies
  • compliance with the law


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