Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

November 28, 2006

Dispute Resolution and the Hierarchy of Legal Scholarship, #4 –

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 3:38 am

The series continues with Jurisydynamic’s Jim Chen’s final response to J.B. Ruhl on evaluting legal scholarship.

J.B. asks, “what can law professors supply the world that top-100 law firm associates usually could not?” Reversing the question might generate some really embarrassing answers. The academy as a whole might not want to contemplate the number of law professors, including professors with tenure at very highly regarded law schools, who could not be entrusted to perform tasks asked of associates at top-tier law firms.

. . .

I agree that looking for value, whether defined as value added or value in the aggregate, is the proper pursuit.

Ally McBeal
Ally 1, Academia 0

. . .

Neither form nor purpose displaces societal impact as the proper gauge of scholarly merit.

Let me sum up. It is possible, at a minimum, to evaluate legal scholarship according to (1) the practical difficulty or intellectual beauty of its methodology, (2) its intended audience, (3) the value added by the scholar relative to the work of a nonscholarly legal professional, or (4) its overall value, either to a specialized field or to society at large. In other words, scholarship can be assessed, like law itself, according to its form, its intended purpose, or its actual effect. Because it’s hard to assess actual effects, lawyers and judges often use form and purpose as shortcuts. Unsurprisingly, legal academics do the same when evaluating their own work. But all parties, I suspect, would do well to pursue direct measures of the only criterion that counts: real-world impact.

Earlier posts in this series are here: post #1, post #2, and post #3.

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