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Academy vs. Judiciary: Dean Tacha speaks at University of Chicago Law Symposium

May 3, 2016 -- Academy vs. Judiciary? Pepperdine Law Dean Deanell Reece Tacha spoke today at a University of Chicago Law School Symposium on Judge Richard Posner's new book, Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary (Harvard University Press, 2016).  Other speakers include:

  • Professor William Baude (Chicago)
  • Professor Lee Epstein (Washington University)
  • Linda Greenhouse (New York Times)
  • Professor Elizabeth Porter (University of Washington)
  • Judge Richard Posner (7th Circuit)
  • Professor David Strauss (Chicago)
  • Judge Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit)
  • Judge Stephen Williams (D.C. Circuit)

From the University of Chicago Law School website:

Richard Posner's new book argues that judges and legal academics are speaking past each other, to the extent they are speaking at all.  Judges often denigrate academic work as irrelevant and obscure, while academics criticize judges for being insufficiently theoretical and rigorous.  Divergent Paths takes on the causes and consequences of the growing gap between these two crucial branches of the legal profession. It also suggests productive directions to overcome the gap. This symposium will present a conversation among several critical readers of the book, including judges and academics, and a response by Judge Posner.

Read more at www.law.uchicago.edu.

About "Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary"

Judges and legal scholars talk past one another, if they have any conversation at all. Academics couch their criticisms of judicial decisions in theoretical terms, which leads many judges—at the risk of intellectual stagnation—to dismiss most academic discourse as opaque and divorced from reality. In Divergent Paths, Richard Posner turns his attention to this widening gap within the legal profession, reflecting on its causes and consequences and asking what can be done to close or at least narrow it

The shortcomings of academic legal analysis are real, but they cannot disguise the fact that the modern judiciary has several serious deficiencies that academic research and teaching could help to solve or alleviate. In U.S. federal courts, which is the focus of Posner's analysis of the judicial path, judges confront ever more difficult cases, many involving complex and arcane scientific and technological distinctions, yet continue to be wedded to legal traditions sometimes centuries old. Posner asks how legal education can be made less theory-driven and more compatible with the present and future demands of judging and lawyering.

Law schools, he points out, have great potential to promote much-needed improvements in the judiciary, but doing so will require significant changes in curriculum, hiring policy, and methods of educating future judges. If law schools start to focus more on practical problems facing the American legal system rather than on debating its theoretical failures, the gulf separating the academy and the judiciary will narrow.

Read more at www.hup.harvard.edu.