March 22, 2007
Lawyers as leaders
Over at the The Yale Law Journal's Pocket Part I saw this interesting essay entitled "Lawyers as Leaders" by Ben W. Heineman, Jr., who is the Distinguished Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School's Program on the Legal Profession and formally served as the General Electric Company's Senior Vice President and General Counsel. The essay has a lot that should interest would-be law school innovators:
In this Essay, I argue that graduates of law schools should aspire not just to be wise counselors but wise leaders; not just to dispense "practical wisdom" but to be "practical visionaries"; not just to have positions where they advise, but where they decide. Put another way, I wish to re-define (or at least to reemphasize) the concept of "lawyer" to include "lawyer as leader." The profession and the law schools should more candidly recognize the importance of leadership and should more directly prepare and inspire young lawyers to seek roles of ultimate responsibility and accountability than they do today.
March 21, 2007
Two more cents on the relevance of legal scholarship
Doug and many, many others have commented recently on the New York Times article describing the decreasing citation of traditional legal scholarship by federal courts. As part of that debate, it is important to recognize the audiences for legal scholarship. I think there are three basic audiences, listed below in descending order of the rewards they can bestow on an academic:
1) Those in the legal academy, including both professors and students, are usually viewed as a primary audience for traditional legal scholarship. Our status is not built on our reputation with judges, for the most part, but on how other academics view us. An article which is well-received by this audience (even if totally ignored by the outside world) is most likely to bring a professor tangible benefits, such as better pay, job mobility, a named chair, tenure, and a higher U.S. News ranking for her school.
2) Judges & practitioners are a secondary audience for scholarship. It can help a professor's career to be cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, but not as much as publishing a major article in a top journal. The articles most useful to this group include synthesis pieces, pulling together trends in case law. Perhaps not coincidentally, these articles are not highly valued among academics.
3) Decision-makers outside the courts, such as legislators, constitute the tertiary audience for legal scholarship. While many academics write about policy issues, very few direct those articles at those who create the policy, taking into account the political realities a legislator faces. Notably, these decision-makers have very little to offer the academic-- statutes do not even include a citation to an article which influenced the creation of that law.
Thus, we seem (not surprisingly) to write primarily for the audience that offers the most rewards. If we cared about changing the world, the relative importance of these three audiences would probably reverse.
-- Mark Osler
March 19, 2007
The judicial (and judicious?) decline of law review cites
Monday's New York Times has this interesting "Sidebar" column by Adam Liptak entitled, "When Rendering Decisions, Judges Are Finding Law Reviews Irrelevant." Unsurprisingly, the article includes ruminations that on-line developments and innovations in part explain why law review articles are being cited far less frequently in judicial opinions in recent years. Also unsurprisingly, the legal blogosphere has been quick with commentary from:
- Jack Balkin with Judges Lose Cite of Law Reviews
- Doug Berman with More grist for the blog-scholarship debate
- Orin Kerr with How Often Should Judges Cite Law Review Articles?
- Daniel Solove with Why Are Judges Citing Fewer Law Review Articles?
Posted by DAB
UPDATE: Here's some more commentary on a topic that I assume will continue to generate buzz from law professors and law bloggers:
- Dale Carpenter with Two more thoughts on the decline of law review citation
- Peter Lattman with Judges Are Ignoring Law Review Articles
- Eugene Volokh with How Much Should Legal Scholarship Aspire To Being Cited by Judges?
As is often the case, Ann Althouse has the most enjoyable of posts on this topic, and it concludes with this fantastic call for action:
[J]udges could change the whole dynamic if they started rejecting law clerk applicants whose law journals published the kind of articles they don't read. So quit complaining and use your power to change things. Or are you so beholden to the law professors whose work you don't read that you have to hire their darlings, those law students who publish the articles you don't read?
Denver Law Faculty and Students to Blog the Nacchio Trial
Denver Law Prof Jay Brown is taking collaborative faculty-student blogging to new heights by providing daily coverage of the criminal trial of Joe Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications International at Race to the Bottom. Professor Brown writes that the Nacchio trial is "really the end of an era, the last big trial from the Enron days."
The trial is scheduled to begin today and is expected to last approximately 8 weeks. Students and faculty will rotate through each day of the trial with the expectation that there will be at least two posts a day. -- Joe Hodnicki