Legal network science

August 12, 2019

How can legal phenomena be represented as networks? What can we learn from their quantitative and visual analysis? Corinna Coupette, Research Associate in the Otto Hahn Group at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, explores these questions in her dissertation, developing legal network science as an element of legal methodology.

Networks are everywhere. Lawyers use them to get to work (infrastructure networks), to seek advice (social networks), and to do research (information networks). They craft them (citation networks), oversee them (financial networks), and fight them (criminal networks). From this perspective, almost anything can be modeled as a network – that is, as a collection of entities, combined with a collection of relationships between these entities. Corinna Coupette studies how legal phenomena can be represented as networks and explores what the law can learn from the quantitative and visual analysis of these networks. In doing so, she introduces legal network science to the German legal discourse. On the basis of an original dataset of decisions by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, she develops tools for modeling, measuring, and mapping the law.

The PDF and the appendix of the book are available online at (PDF) and (appendix).

This work is part of a long-term research project on quantitative legal studies that the author is pursuing together with Andreas M. Fleckner, Research Fellow and Head of the Otto Hahn Group at the Institute. Project results are posted at

Corinna Coupette studied law at Bucerius Law School and Stanford Law School. After her First State Legal Exam, she worked as a Research Associate in the Otto Hahn Group at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance and acquired a Bachelor of Science in computer science at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She is currently a Research Associate in the Otto Hahn Group at the Institute as well as a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.

Corinna Coupette, Juristische Netzwerkforschung: Modellierung, Quantifizierung und Visualisierung relationaler Daten im Recht, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2019, XVIII + 376 Seiten

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