Qualitative Research on Legal Education: Studying Outstanding Law Teachers


  • Gerald F. Hess




This article advocates that law schools and law teachers should use high quality, rigorous, qualitative research to help them make thoughtful changes in response to current challenges facing legal education. Regardless of the type of study, qualitative research involves a five stage process: (1) study design and ethics; (2) sampling; (3) data collection; (4) data analysis; and (5) the research report.

This article illustrates each stage of the qualitative research process through a study of outstanding law teachers that was reported in the recent book, What the Best Law Teachers Do. This book is based on a study that was designed to identify the characteristics and practices of extraordinary law teachers who have significant, positive, long-term effects on their students.