Book Review: How Legal Academics Can Participate in Judicial Education: A How-To Guide by Richard Posner; Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary. By Richard A. Posner. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press, 2016
66 Journal of Legal Education Forthcoming
26 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 23, 2016
One of the core axioms of legal and political philosophy that everyone in society benefits from a well-informed judiciary. However, most academics working in the area of judicial studies focus on issues relating to judicial selection and judicial independence, overlooking the critical role that continuing judicial education can play in improving judicial performance. Although some progress has been made in this regard in recent years, more needs to be done.
Help seems to be on the way in the form of Judge Richard Posner’s most recent book, Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary, which provides a detailed analysis of how the legal academy can assist with the education of current and future judges. Judge Posner’s candid discussion is both novel and noteworthy, particular given various controversies relating to the nature, scope and need for judicial education as well as the role that outsiders, including academics, can and should play in judicial education.
This Review begins with a brief introduction to the contemporary debate about judicial education at both the federal and state level before analyzing Judge Posner’s proposals regarding the academy’s role in judicial education in light of best practices in the field. The discussion focuses on three separate types of initiatives: those involving legal scholarship, those involving the law school curriculum and those involving academic participation in continuing judicial education. In so doing, this Review seeks not only to provide individual academics with tangible ideas on how to enhance their own teaching and scholarship, but also to offer the legal academy an opportunity to improve educational practices on both an institutional and systemic level.
Keywords: judges, judging, legal education, legal scholarship, judicial education, judicial independence, judicial selection, federal courts, state courts, clerks, empirical research
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