Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld: On the Difficulty of Becoming a Law Professor
Forthcoming in The Legacy of Wesley Hohfeld: Edited Major Works, Select Personal Papers, and Original Commentaries (Shyam Balganesh, Ted Sichelman & Henry Smith eds., Cambridge University Press, 2018).
37 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2017
Date Written: 2016
Wesley Hohfeld (1879 - 1918) is well known to legal philosophers and to property teachers for his table of fundamental conceptions, a terminological framework for understanding legal doctrine and reasoning. This work was also substantively important for some members of the American Legal Realist movement and Critical Legal Studies. More personally he was part of the generation of law teachers who had to figure out how to become a professional academic in the years after completion of the job of reordering of the corpus juris in the wake of the demise of the writ system. A Harvard Law School educated westerner who ambivalently wanted to move east from his post at the then decidedly non-elite Stanford Law School, Hohfeld eventually made it to the then decidedly non-elite Yale Law School. His relatively brief career sheds light on both how in the years before World War I legal academics built a professional identity and how they navigated the nascent law school network. It also raises a question of how an analytical legal scholar might have responded to later developments in jurisprudence.
Keywords: Wesley Hohfeld, analytical jurisprudence, the fundamental conceptions, professionalization
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