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Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Future of the Tax Academy

Larry Solum and Jeff Lipshaw have great posts on the future of the legal academy, sparked by a recent discussion by Josh Wright (Part 1, Part 2), Larry Ribstein, and Todd Zywicki on the future of law and economics.  Jeff writes:

Larry Solum ... poses three possible paths. One is a continuation of the present "law and . . . " interdisciplinarity. Two is what he called "multi-disciplinarity," essentially the transformation of academic law into a discipline studied by those who have the equivalent of a Ph.D. in law (and thus broad-based training in all the different ways law might be approached, akin to having a Ph.D. in philosophy or political science) and not merely the professional J.D. degree. Three is a return to the trade school model in which those aspiring to interdisciplinarity migrate to other departments or retire. ...

The trick is allowing either alternative one or alternative two to proceed, but not to the point that teaching practicing lawyers returns to a trade school model. But that's where the leadership comes in. Because the goose that gives the golden egg consists of those tuition and support dollars. So the job of academic leadership in model #2 is to articulate to the profession why the law needs pure scholars (to hearken to my roots, perhaps why even poor Jewish communities were willing to subsidize the rabbi qua scholar), and to articulate why, in return, the academy needs to be actively grateful to, and embrace, its practice-oriented benefactors.

In our corner of the legal education world, what is the future of the tax academy?  Will the Tax Prof ranks become increasingly dominated (at least at the elite law schools) by faculty with an economics Ph.D.?  Comments (as always) are open. 

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