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Interviews have been a central qualitative research approach in some of the most significant law and society research. In seeking to understand how law operates in practice, empirical sociolegal studies have explored how individuals and institutions behave when creating, implementing, or reacting to law. Yet interactions in many legal settings are off-limits to direct observation, or the questions asked by scholars have no answers through externally available data. Interviews—conversation by a researcher with one or more individuals—thus have been an essential family of methodological tools, especially for exploratory research and focused case studies.

Interview methods in empirical research include an array of practices and procedures, but most commonly, scholars employ either semistructured or unstructured interviewing. In semistructured interviewing, a researcher has a set of core questions ...

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