f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 11, 2007

top twenty law review articles of all time

Filed under: lawyer news or ethics,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:00 pm

 ProfPointer The new issue of Harvard Law Bulletin (Spring 2007) has an interesting discussion of The Canon of American Legal Thought (Princeton University Press, Nov. 2006), which is edited and annotated by Harvard Law professors David Kennedy and William W. Fisher III.  The 936-page compendium presents the 20 articles the professors “deem to have been most influential in shaping American legal thinking and a distinctly American style of reasoning across the 20th Century.”  Titled Reviewing the Reviewers: In legal scholarship, what defines staying power?, the HLB article includes the sidebar Twenty for the Ages, which lists the law review articles selected by Kennedy and Fisher. For your convenience, we have reproduced the Top Twenty list below the fold.

checkedBoxS  The oldest article to make the list is “The Path of the Law” by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1897). The most recent is “Introduction,” “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement” (Thomas, eds., 1996).

Professors Fisher and Kennedy divide the canon of American legal thought into eight schools of thought (e.g., Legal Realism, Law and Economics, Feminist Legal Theory).  They found that the labels given to the schools of thought are often reduced to mere shorthand.  I’m not at all surpised that great theories get reduced to labels, but I am a little surprised that two Legal Thought mavens have spent years studying the subject and yet, according to Prof. Kennedy:

“[W]e were both struck by the intellectual sophistication with which many of the cliches of everyday legal argument were originally formulated.”

checkedBoxN I’m happy to say that I don’t have to select my top twenty most-influentional American haiku today.  Instead, I’ll simply share a few from the latest issue of Frogpond, (XXX:1, Winter 2007) 

a bluebird
with its head turned back —
pale evening sky


A doe’s leap
darkens the oyster shell road:

………………………………………… by Peggy Willis Lyles
“A doe’s leap” – orig. pub. Frogpond 1:4 (1978)


QkeyNs sKeyNs quickies …………. 

        At LegalBlog Watch, Carolyn Elefant reconsiders laptops in classrooms and decides that professors should be able to ban wireless websurfing, but not taking notes.

Mom’s voice on the phone —
time of the year
for a surprise frost


daylight ended hour ago
one more page
to the investigation

……………….. by Gary Hotham


Rumpole  Over at the London Times Online, BabyBarista (prior post) almost loses his head over a missing barrister wig.  See horsehair and honeytraps (April 11, 2007).  The topical pupil barrister also notes his agreement with the recent proposal to get rid of wigs in civil matters.  Judging from some of the comments, UK lawyers may be just as keen on putting on airs as their dignity-obsessed American brethren.

  That reminds me of a question I’ve often wanted to ask UK lawyers: Do they mind that Horace Rumpole is the most famous barrister in America?  Is he the most famous in Britain, too?

 SantaList   Yes, I’m still neglecting the upkeep of our Inadvertent Searchee pages.  Nonetheless, I checked our Referer logs this morning and was pleased to see:

  1. Our post wanted a law school exam prayer came in as the first result in the Google query “prayers for writing exams.”   Maybe my Mama G. can now stop offering all those novenas for my wayward soul.
  2. Our post what is agita is the #1 result to the Yahoo Answers question “What is agita?”  If you click on our link, you’ll also find the lyrics to the Broadway Danny Rose song Agita  (by Nick Apollo Forte).
  3. Second is good enough: our posting they don’t teach humilty in law school was the #2 rsult for the Google query “humility in l aw.”

That final Searchee result is a good excuse to point you again to an article posted on the ABA Journal webpage in July 2003, which should be hanging inlaw firm snack rooms around the country.  It’s called Working Together 101: Lawyers May Have the Degree, But They Can Take a Lesson From Support Staff (dated July 24, 2003, by Stephanie Francis Ward, from the July edition of ABA Journal ).

Here are Professor Kennedy and Fisher’s picks of the most influential American law review articles, in chronological order: 

Twenty for the Ages (Harvard Law Bulletin, Spring 2007) 

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. LL.B. 1866, “The Path of the Law” (1897).

Wesley Hohfeld LL.B. 1904, “Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning” (1913).

Robert Hale LL.B. 1909, “Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Noncoercive State” (1923).

John Dewey, “Logical Method and Law” (1924).  checkedBoxS 

Karl Llewellyn, “Some Realism About Realism—Responding to Dean Pound” (1931).

Felix Cohen, “Transcendental Nonsense and the Functional Approach” (1935).

Lon L. Fuller, “Consideration and Form” (1941). 

Henry M. Hart Jr. ’30 and Albert M. Sacks ’48, “The Legal Process: Basic Problems in the Making and Application of Law” (1958).

Herbert Wechsler, “Toward Neutral Principles of Constitutional Law” (1959).

Ronald H. Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost” (1960).  checkedBoxN

Stewart Macaulay, “Non-Contractual Relations in Business: A Preliminary Study” (1963).

Guido Calabresi and Douglas Melamed, “Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral” (1972).

Marc Galanter, “Why the ‘Haves’ Come Out Ahead: Speculations on the Limits of Legal Change” (1974).

Ronald Dworkin ’57, “Hard Cases” (1975).

Abram Chayes ’49, “The Role of the Judge in Public Law Litigation” (1976).

Duncan Kennedy, “Form and Substance in Private Law Adjudication” (1976).

Catharine A. MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State” (1982-1983).

Robert Cover, “Violence and the Word” (1986).  checkedBoxS 

Frank Michelman ’60, “Law’s Republic” (1988).

Kimberlé Crenshaw ’84, Neil Gotanda LL.M. ’80, Gary Peller ’80 and Kendall

Thomas, eds., “Introduction,” “Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement” (1996).

From The Canon of American Legal Thought (Princeton University Press, 2006).

1 Comment

  1. David,
    For another view of canonical works, see lists of most-cited books and treatises. — Mary

    Comment by Mary Whisner — April 11, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

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