Empirical Legal Studies is one of the legal science themes that the multi-year Law Sector Plan focuses on, as part of the broader Sector Plan Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) has provided funding. In the field of empirical legal studies, a national collaboration exists that is coordinated by the five law schools of Leiden University, VU Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and University of Groningen, which all focus on ELS within the context of the Law Sector Plan. The various law schools in the Netherlands bundle their expertise and experience at the service of PhD students and other young scholars.

The science theme Empirical Legal Studies gives impetus to empirical legal research within the legal discipline. At the heart of this endeavor is the empirical examination of legally relevant questions. Empirical research on the functioning and the effects of law in practice offers fundamental insights into (behavioral) assumptions underlying various laws and regulations.

De ELS Academy is an important step toward educating a new generation of empirical legal scholars and mainstreaming ELS in legal scholarship.



The mission of the ELS Academy centers around community building with the following pillars:


Our mission is to facilitate an increasing number of legal scholars to explore empirical questions in their research. Empirical methods do not belong to the traditional toolbox of legal scholars. It is the objective of the Law Sector Plan as well as the ELS Academy to mainstream these methods over the coming years. The ELS Academy provides legal scholars with a comprehensive toolbox and a community of peers and experts from whom they can learn.


Our mission is to develop a country-wide network of resources and education. The Dutch law schools join forces and share knowledge and experience as well as course materials with regard to empirical methods in legal research. Open knowledge sharing for both education and research brings structural innovation to the legal domain beyond the sector plan. The ELS Academy is a way to institutionalize this exchange.


Our mission is to give impetus to collaboration in empirical legal research projects. Facilitated by the sector plan, the Netherlands has seen a rise in empirical legal scholars over the past few years. The ELS Academy focuses on bringing them together in a national community. This strengthens collaboration between law schools as well as interdisciplinary collaboration, as scholars from other disciplines, in particular the social and behavioral sciences, are part of this community.


Our mission is to be a national and public platform that is at the forefront of empirical legal studies worldwide. The ELS Academy showcases the empirical legal research that is being done and the ELS education that is being offered in the Netherlands.