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Is There a Lingua Franca for the American Legal Academy?

The New Legal Realism (ed. Elizabeth Mertz; Cambridge University Press), 2013

University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 647

17 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2013 Last revised: 24 Jul 2013

Mary Anne Case

University of Chicago Law School

Date Written: July 22, 2013

Abstract

This chapter examines translation between languages within the legal academy, evaluating the push for rational choice as a kind of lingua franca for law professors as opposed to the traditional "vernacular" provided by legal doctrinal language. The paper suggests that for much of the American legal academy in the last generation, the language of law-and-economics and rational choice bears the same relationship to the language of legal doctrine (including what is left of law French) as French did to Russian for most Russian aristocrats. In other words, whether or not there is a lingua franca in the legal academy, there is a vernacular, which is the language of doctrine. While rational choice has gained widespread acceptance as a language among some law professors, insights from other disciplines have been more selectively incorporated, in the process often losing the distinct trace of their original disciplinary settings.

Suggested Citation

Case, Mary Anne, Is There a Lingua Franca for the American Legal Academy? (July 22, 2013). The New Legal Realism (ed. Elizabeth Mertz; Cambridge University Press), 2013; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 647. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2296602

Mary Case (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-3867 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

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