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Law's Practice

26 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2006  

Dennis Patterson

European University Institute; Rutgers University School of Law, Camden; Swansea University School of Law; European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)


In 1929, American law professor Karl Llewellyn conducted a series of lectures in Germany regarding the case-law practice of law in America. In these lectures and the subsequent book, Llewellyn advanced a theory of law that was eerily precognitive of the famous linguistic turn in Philosophy and other disciplines. He instructed the Germans that to understand law is to understand the actual practice, the substantive actions, of law; not the prevalent notion that the rule or principle was definitive of law. In this essay I correlate Llewellyn's teachings with the subsequent revolutionary theories of Wittgenstein and show how Llewellyn's theory was a precursor to the linguistic turn generally.

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Dennis, Law's Practice. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 90, 1990. Available at SSRN:

Dennis Patterson (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

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Rutgers University School of Law, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102-1203
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Swansea University School of Law

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European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

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