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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rhetorical Constructions of the Law Professor Persona(e)

Carlo A. Pedrioli (Barry), Professor Kingsfield in Conflict: Rhetorical Constructions of the U.S. Law Professor Persona(e), 38 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 701 (2012):

At least since the 1960s, a “‘two cultures’ phenomenon” has become quite apparent within the legal field in the United States. On one hand, some lawyers, usually those within the university, have been more academically oriented, and, on the other hand, other lawyers, usually those in legal practice or sitting on the bench, have been more pragmatically oriented. Problems arise when these two groups begin to talk differently from each other. In a way, the field of law has developed into at least two different legal professions, and, not surprisingly, scholars and practitioners have experienced tension because of this situation. The problem comes to a head when, through rhetoric, lawyers envision their ideal role(s) for the law professor.

Calling upon rhetorical theory, this article traces the contours of the conflict over the construction of the role(s), or persona(e), of the U.S. law professor from 1960 to the present. The article draws an initial line at 1960 because, by the 1960s, law schools in the United States had matured to the point at which they clearly were thinking of themselves as graduate programs within the university system. After a discussion of persona theory and persona analysis, this article addresses the two major personae that have emerged in the conflict, the law professor as scholar and the law professor as practitioner. As appropriate, each subsection of the article that considers a persona also addresses the type of rhetoric that lawyers have employed in developing their preferred persona. In this study, the term lawyers refers to both practicing lawyers and academic lawyers. A concluding section synthesizes some of the communication problems that have emerged in this ongoing conflict, usually due to a heavy reliance on traditional Aristotelian rhetoric, or persuasion, as a rhetorical strategy. Although descriptive in nature, the current article sets the stage for a subsequent article, normative in nature, that will open the door to an alternative approach to this ongoing conflict.

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Comments

This dichotomy can be more parsimoniously explained by the fact that the vast majority of law professors have less than 10 years of real-world practice experience (working for a law firm, a non-profit, or a government agency). The median is probably around 5 years!

Posted by: Robert Gould | Aug 20, 2013 9:17:31 AM

"On one hand, some lawyers, usually those within the university, have been more academically oriented, and, on the other hand, other lawyers, usually those in legal practice or sitting on the bench, have been more pragmatically oriented." While the former is empirically verifiable, the latter is less. At least some appellate judges may have become more pragmatical over the last 50 years or so. Practitioners have always been so--that is how they serve the public and that is how they make a living. Most of us on the practice end believe that academia has gone off the deep end.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Aug 20, 2013 9:39:40 AM

"Persona(e)," "rhetorical theory," "Aristotelian," "normative"--yup, this was written by a law professor.

Posted by: Jobs | Aug 20, 2013 5:29:28 PM