Paul L. Caron

Friday, March 16, 2007

Judges Use Law Reviews "Like Drunkards Use Lampposts: More For Support Than for Illumination"

Interesting article in today's New York Lawyer:  Federal Judges Discuss Usefulness of Law Reviews, by Thomas Adcock:

Kicking off a recent friendly-but-frank discussion about the relevance of contemporary law review articles, Dean David Rudenstine of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law offered one description: "useless blather puffed up with self-indulgence" ...

Judge Sack returned to the not-so-funny problem under consideration: today's highly theoretical articles are largely ignored and seldom cited by judges, a dramatic turnabout from a generation ago when the mostly practical content of law reviews was a significant element of judicial decision-making. Judge Sack was sorry to say that the bench now uses law reviews "like drunkards use lampposts, more for support than for illumination." ...

"If the academy wants to change the world, it must decide if it wants to be a part of the world." ...

Although Judge Sotomayor agreed that brainy law professors should not trouble themselves by contemplating reactions from the bench to their writings, she leveled a sharp gaze at the Cardozo Law faculty and declared, "If you think that judges are not as capable of creative thought as you are, I beg to differ." She added, "My question to academics: do you really think you're serving some function to someone?"

(Hat Tip:  Kasey Ingram.)

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Perhaps law review articles need to be more practical. I bet student written notes and comments are cited more (or at least used for research), I find them more relevant to the actual practice of law.

Posted by: pcharles | Mar 17, 2007 11:41:03 PM

I'm glad they quoted Judge Sotomayor in the story because I would very much hesitate to call her comments "friendly" in the slightest. Her tone in saying those words was, to my ears, just as harsh as they seem on paper/screen.

Posted by: Jason | Mar 16, 2007 2:37:59 PM