Law and Politics: Occasional Papers of Felix Frankfurter, 1913-1938

By Archibald MacLeish; E. F. Prichard Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

The Conditions for, and the Aims and Methods of, Legal Research

The following paper was read at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in December, 1929, and appears in the Iowa Law Reviewfor February, 1930 (Vol. 15, p. 129).

WE ARE to discuss this afternoon "the conditions for, and the aims and methods of, legal research," and our president has very kindly asked me to lead the discussion.

I shall take at face value President Horack's wish as well as the formulation of our topic. I shall regard this as a discussion, and not subject you to a drowsy, learned or unlearned paper. And not belonging to any theological school of jurisprudence, I shall not avail myself of the theologian's privilege--or is it a right?--to discard the text after announcing it. Let me assume, then, that there are only six of us sitting around the table. I am challenged to say all I have to say about research in law--what it is and what it isn't. What fertilizes it? What distracts it? To what end is it pursued, and how do you go about it? My party gives me the free run of talk to say all I have to say, because they well know that if I keep faith with them I shall engage their ears for not much more than twenty minutes.

Speaking thus to a half dozen familiars, it would be understood, of course, that I am not here to criticize others; I am not here to speak pro mea domu, not even pro mea vita. If criticism you must find in what I am about to say, it is directed more against my own school than any other institution because, being provincial, I covet most for my school. Nor must you treat me as representative of anything except of the views I sponsor. Natu

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