Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

November 16, 2006

Dispute Resolution and the Hierarchy of Legal Scholarship, #2 –

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 5:57 am

See the earlier post, #1 in this series for J. B. Ruhl’s typology of legal scholarship and my discussion of its relevance to dispute resolution. Jurisdynamic’s Jim Chen responds to J.R. Ruhl and the commentors by noting first that the list’s progression from blog posts to empirical scholarship appears to rest on an evaluation of the difficulty of the type of scholarship.

The problem, of course, is that the difficulty of a scholarly form or methodology has no necessary bearing on its quality. Stated more formally, my objection is this:

Value ≠ Cost


Words of valueA proper hierarchy of legal scholarship, therefore, demands attention not merely to its cost (as measured by the effort invested in it) but also to its value. What [a cited legal opinion used to make his point] said … makes sense here: “It is not theory but the impact of [scholarship] which counts.”

How then should we measure scholarly impact or value?

Mr. Chen proposes an alternate hierarchy based, as he puts it, “loosely on the value ascribed to legal scholarship by its potential audiences:

1. Self-referential scholarship
2. Scholarship solely of interest to other law professors
3. Scholarship solely of interest to law review editors
4. Scholarship addressing lawyers, judges, and legislators
5. Scholarship addressing fellow scientists
6. Scholarship that solves a significant social problem

J. B. Ruhl’s response to Mr. Chen will be discussed here, tomorrow, later.


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