Law and the Great Plains: Essays on the Legal History of the Heartland

By John R. Wunder | Go to book overview

Part III
Legalists of the Great Plains

The philosophy of law and the practice of law by legalists related to the Great Plains have been significant. There is clearly a jurisprudential aspect of Great Plains law that interests the rest of the nation, and an attorney-at- law practicing in the Great Plains can expect any number of unique legal consequences, whether it be in water law, Indian law, or conflicts of law.

The Great Plains has provided the setting for several of the greatest twentieth-century philosophers of law. One is Roscoe Pound, who, born in a small central Nebraska town, attended the University of Nebraska. Pound pursued a multitude of scholarly interests, including botany, philosophy, and law, and he is perhaps best known for his theories of sociological jurisprudence and his interest in the social impact of law. 1 A second major legal philosopher associated with the Great Plains and the subject of the first essay in this section is Karl Llewellyn. With E. Adamson Hoebel, a cultural anthropologist from the University of Minnesota, 2 Llewellyn was the co-author of The Cheyenne Way. Llewellyn also helped found the school of legal realism. In 1930 Llewellyn, then a law professor at Columbia University, together with Jerome Frank, a attorney in New York City, published a series of essays that distinguished between legal concepts and phrases and their application to the real world. Legal rules were, according to Llewellyn, rigid abstractions, and there was a fundamental distance

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