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Legal Scholarship and the Practice of Law, 63 University of Colorado Law Review 615 (1992)


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


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