Can Law Survive Legal Education?

38 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2012

See all articles by Ernest J. Weinrib

Ernest J. Weinrib

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2007


Legal education exists at the confluence of three activities that reciprocally affect one another: legal practice, the enterprise of understanding that practice, and university study. The disjunction between legal practice and university study has been criticised for its attendant disservice to the legal profession. This article argues that the disjunction arises out of the different understandings of law that animate legal practice and contemporary university study. Focussing on private law and using the example of economic analysis, the article underlines the role of instrumentalist understandings of law in mischaracterizing legal practice. It also sketches a different mode of legal understanding that both respects legal practice and affirms private law as a component of our intellectual inheritance worthy of university study in its own terms. Finally, the article discusses the use of nuisance cases in Coase's famous article on social cost, in order to show the shortcomings of the current conception of interdisciplinary study. By marking out the distinctive mode of thinking and discourse in law, the author points to a conception of the core of legal education that links the three activities of practice, understanding, and university study.

Suggested Citation

Weinrib, Ernest J., Can Law Survive Legal Education? (2007). Vanderbilt Law Review, Symposium on Legal Education, Vol. 60, p. 401-438, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Ernest J. Weinrib (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

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