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

By Felix Frankfurter; Archibald MacLeish et al. | Go to book overview

English Law Schools and American

The following book review of Annual Survey of English Law, 1930, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Law, appeared in the Harvard Law Review for January, 1932 (Vol. 45, p. 536).

NOW THAT the country is in a mood of deep self-searching, it might not be superfluous for the law-teaching profession to take stock of its accomplishments and directions. One of our national complacencies is the conviction of superiority of American over English legal education, a notion which English scholars have at times encouraged, partly through their subtler politeness and partly to foster schemes of educational reform in England. Surely the proof of the pudding of legal education is the quality of bench and bar and of legal scholarship. There is considerable ferment in the law schools today. But, after all, the glories of scholarship are durable additions to intellectual capital. Of this, in the form of books or essays, there is pitiably little in proportion to the number of law teachers and the enormous resources devoted to legal education. One fears that the overshadowing influence of business psychology--quick results and many of them--have subtly, and sometimes not too subtly, exerted a powerful undertow influence upon law schools. Intellectual product of a high order, foundation work like James Bradley Thayer's for the law of evidence requires brooding reflection, long-term inquiry, and a high indifference to immediate practicality. Our law reviews multiply like rabbits, but how much of their content is worth reading two years after publication?

When we turn to bench and bar, England has nothing to fear by comparison with us. We have, of course, a few giants, particu-

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