Biographing Realist Jurisprudence

27 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2010

See all articles by Roy Kreitner

Roy Kreitner

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 18, 2010


This essay reexamines realist jurisprudence through a review of two biographies of leading realists: Dalia Tsuk Mitchell’s Architect of Justice: Felix Cohen and the Founding of American Legal Pluralism (2007), and Spencer Waller’s Thurman Arnold: A Biography (2005). The essay argues that when biographies of legal realists are considered alongside their academic writing, a more robust jurisprudence emerges. Realist lives crystallize the intuition that the major innovation of legal realism was not, as generally assumed, its attitude toward judges and adjudication. Instead, realist jurisprudence is an institutionalist view of law with a focus on groups rather than individuals. Realist jurisprudence understands courts, legislatures, administrative agencies, and nongovernmental groups as important loci of law, lawmaking, and legal reasoning.

Keywords: Biography, Legal Theory, Jurisprudence, Legal Realism, Legal History

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Kreitner, Roy, Biographing Realist Jurisprudence (August 18, 2010). Law and Social Inquiry, Vol. 35, No. 3, p. 765, Summer 2010, Available at SSRN:

Roy Kreitner (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv, 69978
+972 3 6406505 (Phone)
+972 3 6409576 (Fax)

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