In the UK's 105 university law departments, about half of the membership comprises professional lawyers, producing research on all aspects of law.
Far from merely an academic indulgence, such legal research is essential in actually developing the law in practice, compiling and studying data on how the system works in its social context in order to identify areas of possible improvement and reform. The research is used by judges and parliamentarians and applied to reshape the law.
It is not just the analysis of legislation, but also judgments, the institutions that apply the law such as the police, the judiciary and tribunals, the role of juries etc. Inefficiencies, deficiencies and inadequacies can be highlighted and scrutinised.
Research departments are home to people with pure doctoral and theoretical research backgrounds of course, but they work in a complementary manner with former practising lawyers, who provide their essential professional experience of the practical application. Each view informs the other in the mutual goal.
Also for a university environment, see 'Teaching Law'.