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In the last decade, statutory interpretation has reemerged as an important topic of academic theory and discussion. This development is welcome, since few topics are more relevant to legal craft and education than the interpretation of statutes, now our primary source of law. The recent theoretical views, however, contrast with practicing lawyers' strategies of statutory interpretation. When practitioners give advice to clients about what a statute means, their approach is usually eclectic: They look at the text of the relevant statutory provisions, any legislative history that is available, the context in which the legislation was enacted, the overall legal landscape, and the lessons of common sense and good policy. But when law professors talk about statutory interpretation, they tend to posit a more abstract, "grand" theory that privileges one or another of these approaches as "foundational." The commentators' grand theories contrast with the more ad hoc, factbased reasoning of the practicing lawyer.
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