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Legal Realism at Yale, 1927-1960 [Hardcover]

Laura Kalman


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Book Description

August 1986 Studies in Legal History
Important Study of the Legal Realism Movement The history of the concept of legal realism as it evolved at Yale University Law School is in fact a history of the development of legal education in this country during the years 1927-1960, as Kalman shows in this important study. The realists' attention toward the importance of the role of litigation, the practitioner, judges and judicial reasoning, and the judiciary in a societal context represented a departure from the scientific casebook method espoused by C.C. Langdell at Harvard University Law School in the 1870s, and later supported by Roscoe Pound. Laura Kalman is a Professor of History at University of California Santa Barbara. Laura Kalman argues that factors such as budgetary constraints, university politics, personal feuds, and broader social trends may have been as important as legal theory in shaping the contours and determining the fate of legal realism at Yale. She calls her book 'a case study of the interrelationship between intellectual theory and institutional factors within the specific context of legal education.' Using legal education at Harvard as a reference point, especially Langdellian conceptualism, she sees realism as a variety of functionalism, reflecting a belief that law should be organized with reference to facts and social purposes rather than abstract legal concepts. Thus, the emergence of legal realism at Yale was, among other things, an attempt by the Yale Law School to differentiate itself from the Harvard Law School and thereby to enhance its own stature. -- Paul L. Murphy, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Oct. 1989) Laura Kalman's monograph, originally a dissertation, is nevertheless a fresh and rather engaging study of a finished chapter in intellectual history-the legal realist movement. It flourished in the 1930s, revived in another form after World War II, and then faded away around 1960, when Kalman ends her work. -- Ralph S. Brown, Law and History Review, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring, 1988) CONTENTS Acknowledgments Prologue 1 The Context and Characteristics of Legal Realism 2 Realism Rejected: The Case of Harvard 3 Two Realistic Law Schools? Columbia and Yale 4 Pictures from an Institution: The First Yale Realists 5 Postwar Realism 6 Convergence Epilogue Notes Index
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Pr (August 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807816779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807816776
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still One of the Best Studies of Legal Realism Feb. 2 2009
By Ronald H. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Periodically, interest seems to rekindle in the Legal Realist movement of the 1930's. Most recently, Wouter de Been, a Dutch scholar, has written "Legal Realism Regained: Saving Realism from Critical Acclaim" (reviewed on Amazon). This group of legal scholars successfully sought to reorient our thinking toward the nature and role of law, legal reasoning, legal language, and law and the social sciences. Their impact continues to the present day. This examination of legal realism at Yale was originally published in 1986, and it has stood the test of time as one of the most perceptive and effective studies of the topic. While the center of focus is Yale Law School, the analysis has a broader range than just YLS, which was in any regard the headquarters of legal realism during the 1927-1960 period. For example, the initial chapter on "The Contexts and Characteristics of Legal Realism" lays out most of the central elements of realism, including its antecedents, functionalism, anti-conceptualism, and its invocation of social science. The author then contrasts realism with the formalistic approach at Harvard Law School which rejected realism. A third chapter discusses the realist "meltdown" which occurred at Columbia, and led to the migration of some important realist figures (such as William O. Douglas) to YLS. This chapter includes as well a nice discussion of some of the casebooks produced by the Yale realists. The fourth chapter is closest to the book's title, as the author details the evolution and growth of realism at YLS from 1927 until the second war. Subsequent chapters are devoted to postwar realism and "realism defused" in the the 1950-60 period.

A whole cast of important characters are discussed: Thurman Arnold, Jerome Frank, Walton Hamilton, Charles Clark, Oliphant, Llewellyn, Pound, Leon Green, Robert Hutchins, Fred ("the Red") Rodell, Thomas ("Tommy the Commie") Emerson, John Frank and many more. So, even though the focus is primarily YLS, since it was the center of gravity for legal realism during this period, the analysis does not suffer from too narrow a focus. As is typical with the author, exhaustive research is in evidence, exhibited in 86 pages of notes (but no bibliography). The author has maintained her interest in YLS, contributing an important essay to "History of the Yale Law School" (on the "dark ages" of the 1960's and 1970's), as well as a fine book-length study, "Yale Law School and the Sixties: Revolt and Reverberation" (both reviewed on Amazon). Whether you believe YLS is the center of the legal universe or not, this is a fine study of legal realism that deserves the attention of serious students of the topic.
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