Friendship & the Law

77 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2006

See all articles by Ethan J. Leib

Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law


This Article's central argument is that the law needs to do a better job of recognizing, protecting, respecting, and promoting friendships. The law gives pride of place to other statuses - family and special professional relationships are obvious ones - but the status of the friend is rarely relevant to legal decision-making and public policy-making. After defining the concept of the friend, I offer a normative argument for why the law should promote a public policy of friendship facilitation and for why the law ignores friendships only at its peril. I highlight how the law already finds friendship relevant in certain issue areas without any self-conscious or systematic understanding of it - and I recommend other issue areas where friendship could matter more to legislators, courts, and legal scholars. We are regulating friendships without even recognizing that we are doing so and friendship commands more attention from legal scholars and legal decision-makers. I offer a framework to show how the law could exact certain duties from friends and confer certain privileges upon them as well.

Suggested Citation

Leib, Ethan J., Friendship & the Law. UCLA Law Review, Vol. 54, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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