This annual special issue of JELS includes selected papers presented at the Sixth Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, held at Northwestern Law School in Chicago, Illinois on November 4–5, 2011. The conference was organized by Northwestern Law and the Society for Empirical Legal Studies. This conference, like its predecessors, featured presentations of original empirical legal scholarship by both junior and established researchers from a diverse range of fields. Selection was competitive; each paper was reviewed twice (and some a third time); the acceptance rate was around 30 percent. Each paper was paired with a commentator to provide, along with audience input, feedback for the paper's author or authors. The reviewers also provided comments to authors on all papers, including papers not accepted for the conference. A poster session provided an opportunity to present additional papers. The primary goal of the conference, as always, was to encourage the development of empirical legal studies through opportunities to discuss and debate empirical work within an interdisciplinary context. Presenters at the conference were invited to submit their papers to JELS for this special issue; they were reviewed again at this stage. Accepted papers were revised in line with reviewers’ comments and appear in this issue.

Many people contributed to the success of the Sixth Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies. Co-presidents of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies Bernie Black, Shari Seidman Diamond, and Emerson H. Tiller at Northwestern were assisted by the other directors and officers of the Society: Jennifer Arlen, John Donohue, Theodore Eisenberg, Valerie Hans, Michael Heise, Daniel Ho, Matthew McCubbins, Geoffrey Miller, Roberta Romano, and Eric Talley. Executive Director Dawn Chutkow gave extraordinary assistance in organizing the program. Northwestern Law, with co-sponsors the Searle Center on Law, Regulation, and Economic Growth and the American Bar Foundation, generously provided financial and other support for the conference. In particular, administrative support from Derek Gundersen and Michael Cooper with help from Lucinda Finley ensured a welcoming and efficiently managed conference.

Key to the intellectual success of the 2011 conference and this issue of JELS were the contributions of the many scholars who served as referees, commentators, and panel chairs. We give them our wholehearted thanks.

  • Bernie S. Black

  • Shari Seidman Diamond

  • Emerson H. Tiller

  • Co-Chairs, Organizing Committee, Sixth Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies