Monday, September 28, 2015
In a current article in the Yale Law Journal, Hon. Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, finds that legal scholarship has only an indirect influence. Here is the abstract:
This Feature examines the role of legal scholarship in judicial decision making. It first provides a historical snapshot of U.S. legal scholarship, noting that the advent of legal realism and other academic schools of thought may have contributed to a gap between legal scholarship and judicial practice. The Feature then conducts an empirical survey of recent citations to legal scholarship on the Seventh Circuit and concludes that most citations were on points of legal doctrine rather than broad legal theory. While legal scholarship could well serve purposes other than influencing judges—such as introducing new ideas, helping to shift norms, and subtly affecting the development of the law—the Feature draws attention to the disconnect between the bulk of legal scholarship and the judicial decision-making process.
You can access her article here, Legal Scholarship for Judges.
Unfortunately, Judge Wood’s conclusions are not atypical. A raft of scholarship on law reviews supports them. One wonders how much time and money law schools and professors should spend on scholarship when they could exert a greater influence by spending those resources on improving pedagogy and contributing to public service.