Nonlegal Information and the Delegalization of Law

Posted: 12 Jun 2001

See all articles by Frederick Schauer

Frederick Schauer

University of Virginia School of Law

Virginia J. Wise

Harvard Law School

Abstract

Technological changes have made access to non-legal information such as newspaper reports and general interest books far less costly. As expected, this has increased the citation to such materials, not only absolutely but as a proportion of citations generally and of secondary citations. We document this change through analyses of citation to nonlegal information in the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Supreme Court of New Jersey, and in selected other courts. The increase in the citation in nonlegal information is only explainable by a decrease in the cost of access to such information that is greater than the decreased cost for access to other sorts of information traditionally relied on by lawyers, judges, and law clerks. If this trend continues and signals a change in acceptable authority, it may foreshadow the decreased dominance of the traditional canon of legal information, which may, in turn, produce the phenomenon we call the "delegalization" of law.

Suggested Citation

Schauer, Frederick and Wise, Virginia J., Nonlegal Information and the Delegalization of Law. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1, Pt. 2, January 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=231576

Frederick Schauer (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-6777 (Phone)

Virginia J. Wise

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-9389 (Phone)
617-495-1110 (Fax)

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