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The Network of Empirical Labour Law Scholars (NELLS) is an interdisciplinary research group that connects individuals undertaking or interested in empirical labour law research. Its members span the disciplines of law, industrial relations, economics and business, and are located across the UK, EU and the world. NELLS aims to facilitate the sharing of information and knowledge about empirical research methods via interdisciplinary and inter-generational dialogue, and to promote the practice of empirical labour law scholarship generally.

NELLS is coordinated jointly by Dr Amy Ludlow and Dr Alysia Blackham at the University of Cambridge.

Events and Activities

New Frontiers in Empirical Labour Law Research symposium: 14-15 April 2014

The New Frontiers in Empirical Labour Law Research symposium was held at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, on 14-15 April 2014.

Labour law scholars are increasingly recognising the need for empirical legal scholarship to better understand the practical effects of legal change and inform evidence-based policymaking. Interdisciplinary methodologies and new approaches to legal scholarship can provide radical insights into labour law problems. They can challenge existing assumptions about the effectiveness or impact of legal rules; something that seems particularly important in the current context of austerity driven, deregulatory responses to the Global Financial Crisis.

This symposium brought together experts across a range of disciplines (including employment relations, industrial psychology, sociology, economics and political science) to consider these new frontiers in empirical labour law research. Case studies of innovative empirical research methods were presented, alongside broader papers that reflected upon the possibilities and challenges of exploring labour law problems using empirical methodologies. Acknowledging current general deficiencies in empirical capacity among lawyers in the UK, the symposium sought to cultivate confidence and competence among both established and young scholars, through intergenerational and interdisciplinary "lessons learned" dialogue.

Papers focused upon the following four broad themes:

  1. The case for empiricism in labour law
  2. The potential for mixed methods
  3. Methodological possibilities and insights from other disciplines
  4. Practical challenges and words of caution for those conducting empirical research

A final programme is available to download. Papers from the symposium will be published in an edited collection by Hart in 2015.

The organisers are very grateful for the support of the Cambridge Socio-Legal Group, the Centre for European Legal Studies (CELS) and the Centre for Business Research (CBR).


This section provides links to key empirical labour law research materials. If you would like to suggest material for inclusion on this section, please contact us.

On socio-legal research generally, please see the Cambridge Socio-Legal Group, and research methods seminars held at the University of Cambridge.


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