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Very few academics today doubt that American legal scholarship is experiencing a crisis of identity. We are torn between the project of professional education and the aspiration for more general academic respectability; we veer unstably between celebrating the rule of law and deconstructing it in the most advanced postmodern fashion; we are ripped apart by divergent currents of Critical Legal Studies, Hermeneutic Theory, clinical education, Doctrinalism, Law and Economics, Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Positivism, Law and Literature, or, most recently, anti-normativism. We are in danger of dissipating our coherence as a professional discipline. There are in my view two primary causes for the current chaos. Both are visible in the three papers about which I have been asked to comment. The first is the emergence of a form of legal scholarship that situates itself exogenously to the practice of law. This is the scholarship championed in the excellent paper by Meir Dan-Cohen.The second is a growing uncertainty about the purposes of legal practice, an uncertainty that is increasingly paralyzing to those legal academics who sincerely seek to improve the practice. This paralysis is apparent in the fine papers of John Henry Schlegel and Robert Weisberg, which well display the demoralization of contemporary legal scholarship.
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