The Micro-Macro Legal Continuum and the Levels of Law
8 Socio-Legal Review 1 (2012)
28 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012 Last revised: 27 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 21, 2012
What is the relationship between individual and collective legal action? How does a single lawsuit, a single statute, a solitary administrative regulation, or a specific executive order affect legal doctrine? More generally, what about the broader law? In an attempt to answer that question, this essay articulates two interrelated concepts: the micro-macro legal continuum and the levels of law.
First, the micro-macro legal continuum demonstrates how the type of law can affect legal actors’ professional judgment and decision-making. Paralleling the division between microeconomics and macroeconomics, the porous boundary between micro law and macro law is dictated by different legal roles. Whereas legal actors practicing micro law are more limited in their judgment and decision-making, legal actors engaging macro law can exercise greater independent judgment and decision-making. While practitioners tend to engage more micro law and academics more macro law, this need not always be the case.
Second, both micro and macro law can impact society at three different levels. These three levels of law parallel the three levels of military art. The lowest level, the tactical level of law, focuses solely upon the people directly impacted by the particular law. Conversely, the highest level, the strategic level of law, is concerned with the broader policy implications beyond the people directly impacted by the particular law. The intermediate level, the operational level of law, links the tactical and strategic levels. The operational level of law uses micro law to change or to develop macro law.
Together the micro-macro legal continuum and the three levels of law provide an alternative legal problem-solving framework more accurate than current less sophisticated approaches such as the so-called 'great disconnect' between the legal academy and legal practice. Although this alternative legal framework requires refinement and empirical testing, it can help develop a new 'law and practice' movement that seeks to enrich the study of law with the unique intra-disciplinary insights of legal practice.
Modern democracies today face many challenging problems. Law can help address those problems. Academics and practitioners need to coordinate their efforts along the entire micro-macro legal continuum and at the different levels of law to innovate more effective legal solutions to these problems.
Keywords: micro-macro legal continuum, levels of law, tactical level of law, operational level of law, strategic level of law, theory-practice gap, disjunction between legal education and the legal profession, legal theory, legal change, law and society
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