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Friday, July 8, 2011

Lipshaw's Intro to the "Contract as Promise" Symposium

Back in March, Suffolk University Law School hosted a symposium commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Charles Fried's book "Contract as Promise."  (You can download the lectures for free from iTunes).  The papers will be published in the Suffolk Law Review.

It was an enriching day of panels featuring many prominent contract theorists, so it was no small task for Professor Jeffrey Lipshaw to introduce the volume of the Suffolk Law Review containing the essays.  But, as he proves in this intro essay, no feat is too great for Prof. Lipshaw.  Here's the abstract:

This is an introductory essay to the volume of the Suffolk Law Review containing the papers from our symposium centered on Charles Fried’s iconic book, 'Contract as Promise' at 30: The Future of Contract Theory. My theme is the relation of theory to practice, particularly in contract law, and why a theoretical orientation, broadly speaking and whether or not so conceived by the practitioner herself, is fundamental to that practitioner making good judgments. Theorizing - imposing coherent and correspondent conceptual order on events in the real world - is not as unrelated to the ordinary work of lawyers (and others) as some critics of legal academy would suggest. I provide a summary of the papers, presentations, and commentary by the distinguished participating scholars, and consider how their work fits within the framework I describe. Finally, I consider the role of meaning in contract theory; in other words, how both descriptive and normative theory, whether directed to the legal institution of contract or to other phenomena, are all ways of making sense of the human condition, and thus an essential part of what practicing “lawyers-theorists” do every day.

[Meredith R. Miller]

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