The ELS Academy aims at educating a new generation of law students and researchers about the meaning of empirical legal research for legal scholarship and the law, and its theory and methods. Dutch universities are committed to further strengthening the collaboration, as they have joined forces to build a country-wide network of educational resources. The various law schools share knowledge and experience as well as course materials with regard to empirical methods in legal research. Our purpose is to develop courses that contribute specifically to the education of a new generation of empirical legal scholars who are able to do empirical research and translate said research findings into implication for legal norms.


ELS in the law school curriculum – examining state of the art

In the Netherlands, attention to empirical legal research is growing. Growing attention to ELS in legal academia goes hand in hand with attention to education in the field of ELS. The Dutch Platform of Empirical Legal Studies undertook an in-depth country-wide study as part of a project supported by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This has resulted in a report that is available open access (in Dutch). It describes to what extent Dutch law students obtain empirical-legal skills. Results are discussed per university and per level of education. This overview offers an important stepping stone for the universities in their endeavours to further developELS education, one of the goals of the Law Sector Plan.

Based on the report, a Dutch article has been published in Recht der Werkelijkheid. It discusses the portfolio of courses in which empirical legal research skills are currently taught to law students and concludes with a reflection on the future of ELS education in the Netherlands.


We organize conferences to inform and inspire starting ELS researchers and allow them to build a network.

  • November 22, 2019 marked the very first ELS conference in the Netherlands. The conference was hosted by Leiden University and focused on the synergy between ELS and doctrinal legal research.
  • On February 5, 2021, the second ELS conference was organized by Utrecht University and Leiden University, on the topic of aligning research goals, research questions and methodology. Due to corona measures, the event took place online. The main language was English to include non-Dutch speaking researchers from The Netherlands and abroad. By distributing a survey among the participants, input was gathered on future educational meetings and desired topics. Read more.

Educational books

The following text books – relevant to law students, PhD students and legal scholars – have been published:

  • Paul Verbruggen (2021). Methoden van systematische rechtspraakanalyse: Tussen juridische dogmatiek en data science. Boom Juridisch.
  • Philip Franses (2021). Quantitative insights for lawyers. Boom Juridisch.
  • Kees van den Bos (2020). Empirical legal research: A primer. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Methods workshops and helpdesks

At the various law schools, methods workshops and other types of meetings are offered (see upcoming events). Moreover, helpdesks and methods portals have been developed to assist legal scholars who are embarking on empirical legal studies for the first, second or umpteenth time (see resources).