One of the things that struck me at the conference was the dearth of law school faculty there. Where were all the crim law profs? It seems to me that many of the empirical findings discussed at ACS have great relevance to law. And conversely, no one at ACS seemed to be talking about recent doctrinal developments that are, I would think, highly relevant to empirical inquiry. Why such little overlap?
It was interesting for me to meet so many people from criminology-type departments (which we don't have at Stanford). Grad programs such as UCI's CLS (Criminology, Law, and Society) seem like interesting, dynamic, wonderful places. I was especially impressed with a discussion I attended between Mona Lynch, some of her students, and legal practitioners about the disparate enforcement of drug laws. Many of the nation's top criminology departments are at universities that don't have law schools--another lack of overlap that I found curious. Where these overlaps do exist, how much collaboration is there, I wonder?
After being at Stanford's sociology department for half a decade, I find that my immediate reaction to presentations of empirical research includes questions like, "What theoretical orientation is motivating this question?" and "Interesting finding, but what mechanisms are really at work here?" These kinds of questions were sometimes addressed in the criminological work I saw, but seemed rarely to be prioritized as fully as they are within the discipline of sociology.
My observations might seem trite or obvious to people who have been working at the intersection of these fields for longer than I, and I'd welcome emails or comments about how the four fields of sociology, law, law and society, and criminology are different or similar, and what they offer--or could offer--each other.