January 07, 2008
Is Corporate Law Scholarship More Interdisciplinary Now?
Posted by Daniel Sokol

Thank you to Gordon, Christine, Vic, Lisa, Fred, and Dave for the opportunity to guest blog. Normally I blog over at the Antitrust and Competition Policy Blog (part of Paul Caron's Empire of law blogs). However, I have teaching and research interests that fall outside of that area and lack a place to express some of these thoughts. For my first posting on the blog, I wanted to do a quick and dirty citation count on corporate law scholarship. For years I have heard people talk about the increasing interdisciplinary nature of legal scholarship.  This is something that while on the job market many faculties boasted about to me.  In some cases the collaboration seemed serious, with people from other departments at job talks, with workshops in which people from various faculties attended or in joint authorship of articles.  In other cases, there was lots of hype for such claims but not much beyond aspirational claims.

In general, people mentioned (and I also believe) that those interested in corporate and commercial legal scholarship might be more amenable to this sort of work because they are more likely to encounter other faculty at their institutions in the business school or other departments interested in similar issues. Since many legal scholars undertake normative analysis, one would hope that some of this normative analysis might be based on empirical positive analysis that others have already undertaken. Much of the positive analysis that is quantitative in nature is found in the non-law literature. I decided to see if my intuition that corporate law scholarship has become increasingly interdisciplinary in focus held true. I did a Westlaw search of the “A” journals in both finance and management across two five year periods- 1990 to 1995 and 2002 to 2007. I could have included premier economics journals that are not field specific or that focus on industrial organization and regulatory issues. However, it was far easier to isolate the “A” journals in finance and management. My findings are below:





Citations 1990-95


Citations 2002-07














Journal of Finance






Journal of Financial Economics






Review of Financial Studies






Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis


















Academy of Management Review






Academy of Management Journal






Strategic Management Journal






Journal of Applied Psychology







Because I used blue book format for my searches, I lost citations in journals that use the full name of the journals. In particular, I lost the Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Law & Economics and Journal of Law Economics & Organization. This may be for the best since these journals are by their nature interdisciplinary and I wanted to measure the diffusion of non-law review sources in mainstream law reviews.

The results are generally what I expected them to be- a significant growth in citation counts for interdisciplinary scholarship within law journals. I credit this to more collaboration and interaction across schools and departments within research universities, an increased number of advanced degree faculty at law schools and more training on the part of entry level faculty to look at these sources even if they lack advanced degrees. I also suspect that law professors are increasingly either using non-law RAs or at least have trained their law school RAs to look beyond Westlaw for support. I do not tend to send out RAs to look for cites for a particular proposition that I have dropped as a footnote as “[cite]” but many do. Since the RAs tend to be the ones doing the searches to fill these cites, I think that many only look at law review citations or at least look there first, which has lowered the citation counts for books, book chapters and non-law review citations that may be better citations for the proposition in question.

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