From a Trial Attorney’s Perspective: Two Dogmas of Law School Academics and Their Effect Upon the Future of Lawyering
38 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017
Date Written: January 2, 2017
Modern law school academics in the United States are dominated by two major schools of thought: law and economics; critical theory. The most recent popular version of the latter calls itself critical realism. Both schools are conditioned upon two dogmas they claim must be recognized by jurisprudence and policy decisions in law. In critical theory, its foundational dogma states there exists a fundamental empirical distinction between situational influences and individual influences. This dogma exists in law and economics by a multiple of names, all making the same fundamental distinction but in disguised form. For this school, situational influences are dogmatically defined as simply a set, sum, or collection of individual influences. Both schools of thought share another dogma: a belief that normative statements can be derived from empirical statements. Academics and their believers in both schools want to be anything, such as economists, psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, physicists, and onward, anything but lawyers for whom they both exhibit nothing but contempt. As a practicing attorney my whole career in law, I write this essay as a representative of a dying breed (perhaps justly so): trial work and the art of lawyering. Both dogmas and the contempt for the practice of law that goes with them are not only worthless to jurisprudence but the constant bickering over them and associated paper churning verbiage lacking substance pontificated by those who are the law’s teachers serve only to destroy the credibility of jurisprudence and its usefulness for maintaining and passing on to posterity a free, prosperous, and open society. These dogmas and their contempt for the practice of law prevent progress in jurisprudence from catching up and paralleling scientific learning, an update it desperately needs if it will ever be anything more than the under-laborer for the few who are or want power over the many.
Keywords: philosophy of law, critical theory, critical legal studies, law and economics, critical realism, jurisprudence
JEL Classification: A12, A13, D63, K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation