Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

November 27, 2006

Dispute Resolution and the Hierarchy of Legal Scholarship, #3 –

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 2:14 am

This continues the series on Jurisdynamic’s discussion of the hierarchy of legal scholarship.  For the earlier posts and my discussion of its relevance to dispute resolution, please see the earlier posts, #1 and #2.

In response to Jurisdynamic’s Jim Chen, J.B. Ruhl elaborates on his hierarchy.

the underlying rationale for the hierarchy is not cost of effort; rather it is the value added, using the average associate at a top law firm as the baseline. In other words, what can law professors supply the world that top-100 law firm associates usually could not.
. . .

This is why I put empirical work high on the list. Yes, empirical work is also costly, but it is the type of work that a good scholar, because of the nature of the job and the demands of that kind of work, will be in a better position to provide. One of the comments to my original post suggested that by “empirical work” I mean just compiling numbers. I should clarify that what I mean is (as suggested by another comment) empirical work that tests data against theory, the way real social scientists do it. The reason I put it higher on the list than theory work, therefore, is because it puts the theory to the test. High quality empirical work of this sort is costly, but it is valuable because it illuminates flaws and strengths of the theory work.

To be sure, I recognize that scholarship fitting any particular category will fall on a range of quality, and we might use the categories Jim suggested to differentiate. Excellent doctrinal work is more valuable than half-baked legal theory. I think of my list as defining a typology of legal scholarship based on what law professors can add in terms of value to legal development and understanding. It is, in that sense, only a starting point for evaluation of any particular piece of work. There have already been, in addition to Jim’s suggestions for different sets of criteria, and I am not holding mine out as the only one that has some usefulness by any means.

Please click on the link above to read Mr. Ruhl’s full post.

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