Bond University

Article Title

Scholarship in Perspective


Extract: Although it is a trite fact that legal scholars ought to be concerned about the status and future of legal scholarship, it is rare to find an article that grapples with the problem in an honest and unambiguous fashion. This is why I found Professor Lasson’s commentary on “Scholarship Amok: Excesses in the Pursuit of Truth and Tenure” most instructive and thought-provoking. The commentary touched, in fact, upon many personal concerns that have long troubled me about legal scholarship generally (indeed, it should be mentioned, many of the issues canvassed in the commentary can be generalised, with modifications of course, to apply to many other disciplines as well). These concerns, as well as the fact that the commentary has (to the best of my knowledge) received little comment, have prompted the present response. In deference to the general thrust and tenor of Professor Lasson’s commentary, however, have refrained from using many footnotes; I have in fact, ensured that the various arguments are as highly condensed as possible. It is also hoped that, if nothing else, this brief response would have achieved two broader objectives — that it will be of at least some interest to readers of the Legal Education Review; and secondly, that Professor Lasson will be gratified by the fact that his views are being taken seriously by academics outside the United States of America. There are many things to applaud in Professor Lasson’s commentary — above all, his timely reminder that “law review scholarship” ought not to be the sole determinant of one’s status in the academy. His honesty, albeit tinged with a sharp edge at times in the style of the late Professor Rodell, is, as already alluded to above, refreshing and his wry humour (witness for example, his “elaborate” graph at note 60 which is reminiscent of Robin Williams’ putdown of “mechanistic poetry” in “Dead Poets Society”) is more than welcome. What is disturbing, however, is his very sweeping and all too reductionist view of legal scholarship. He does not persuade me why his rather drastic observations (mostly negative) ought to prevail. The fact that law reviews will probably continue to thrive (as Lasson himself admits) does not, of course, swing the argument the other way either. I thus propose to briefly review the main thrust of his piece in order to demonstrate why it does not hold, in the final analysis.