Legal researchers have always struggled to explain the nature of their activities to colleagues in other disciplines. If Becher’s (1981, p. 111) work continues to represent an accurate account of how academic lawyers are viewed by their peers they have much work still to do in this respect. He found that they were regarded as ‘not really academic … arcane, distant and alien: an appendage to the academic world … vociferous, untrustworthy, immoral, narrow and arrogant’. Their research fared no better, being dismissed as ‘… unexciting, uncreative, and comprising a series of intellectual puzzles scattered among large areas of description’.
This chapter therefore presents a welcome opportunity to explain the actual nature of legal research (or ‘legal scholarship’ as it is more usually described) to researchers from the other component disciplines within the built environment. The built environment is usually considered to be an interdisciplinary (or, at the very least, a multidisciplinary) field linking the disciplines of management, economics, law, technology and design (Chynoweth, 2006). The field as a whole can benefit from an improved understanding of each of its component disciplines, and from the greatest possible involvement of each of these in its collective research agendas. The current chapter aims to assist this process in the context of the law discipline. Specifically, it attempts to describe the nature of research within that discipline by reference to the epistemological, methodological and cultural features which distinguish it from other forms of built environment research.

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