Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Who are your favorite writers (in the legal academy)?
The other day Brian Leiter posted a quiz about people's favorite law bloggers, until he took it down b/c apparently some folks were gaming the poll. Screw that. I have a far more serious question. Who are your favorite writers, qua writers, of law review articles (or, if you're not really reading law review articles these days, blog posts or books). Mind you, note that the question is not who's the smartest prawf or the most influential or even the "best" scholar or blogger that you need to read. Just: whose writing do you take sheer delight in?
I ask because the thought crossed my mind while reading a draft of a book manuscript by our own Paul Horwitz last night. Though it's not in my area and I'm swamped by other obligations, I find Paul's prose just about close to impossible to put down. (Don't worry, though, Paul, I *will* put it down and I only started reading it for about 20 minutes at 1am before I conked out. So no fear that Ben-Ben won't get proper attention.) In any event, I have a few other people whose writing I would also nominate for consideration. Rick Hills would be up there as would Dan Kahan. To be sure, I don't agree with both of them many times but I find their extended writing, some of which is far afield from my own work, intensely engaging. In the blogosphere, I would add a few other names (not to say their scholarship isn't top drawer, but I have less occasion to read it): Kim Krawiec, David Hoffman, Christine Hurt, and Sarah Lawsky (when I can find her!). Who's on your list?
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Consider this, the opening paragraph of her classic article, Crystals and Mud in Property Law:
"Property law, and especially the common law of property, has always been heavily laden with hard-edged doctrines that tell everyone exactly where they stand. Default on paying your loan installments? Too bad, you lose the thing you bought and your past payments as well. Forget to record your deed? Sorry, the next buyer can purchase free of your claim, and you are out on the street. Sell that house with the leak in the basement? Lucky you, you can unload the place without having to tell the buyer about such things at all."
There aren't too many scholars who can write such sharp, clear-eyed prose, let alone do it while establishing herself as one of the greats in the field.
Posted by: Mark Edwards | Mar 24, 2010 8:56:38 PM
I absolutely adore reading myself.
Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Mar 24, 2010 9:05:24 PM
I second the Carol Rose nomination. I'd also add Barton Beebe, from whom I always learn new vocabulary words.
Posted by: Mark McKenna | Mar 24, 2010 9:24:51 PM
This post only two hours old, and I'm already third in line to praise Carol Rose?
Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Mar 24, 2010 10:04:48 PM
James, you might be interested to know that in my Comparative Property Rights seminar this semester, we've read articles by Carol Rose and James Grimmelmann, among others.
Posted by: Mark Edwards | Mar 24, 2010 10:41:34 PM
At the risk of mentioning someone who is a friend and mentor, I'm a huge fan of Stephen Perry's ability to craft an elegant and tight argument
Posted by: Matt | Mar 24, 2010 10:51:42 PM
I am very grateful for the recommendations so far. In fact, Paul's link to Wolf's review of the Sowell book had lots of interesting things to say about what good writing involves for the author, and I wonder if any connections can be drawn in this vein.
In any event, Marc, I also adore reading you...
Posted by: Dan Markel | Mar 24, 2010 11:04:37 PM
The best in the area of law and comedy is clearly BU's Jay Wexler.
Posted by: Andrew Perlman | Mar 24, 2010 11:06:11 PM
Posted by: Anonsters | Mar 24, 2010 11:31:49 PM
I think Eugene Volokh has to be up there.
Posted by: DNJ | Mar 25, 2010 1:29:58 AM
I think Pierre Schlag could be great if he toned it down a bit.
(Oh, and as bloggers, I always like the writing of Paul Horwitz, and Sarah Lawsky's blogging has been hilarious.)
Posted by: Orin Kerr | Mar 25, 2010 2:40:08 AM
I'd go somewhat old school, and say Leo Katz, George Fletcher, and Herb Morris.
Posted by: Mark D. White | Mar 25, 2010 6:46:37 AM
In the category of best blog commenter, I nominate Andrew Perlman.
Posted by: Jay Wexler | Mar 25, 2010 10:04:04 AM
Richard Posner doesn't get mentioned by 13 people? He's a four-way writing threat: blogging, articles, books, opinions. And it's all beautifully clear (at least on the surface).
Orin Kerr is my favorite blogger. For some reason, he's not willing to join our blog without a "significant" signing bonus, which we may be able to afford in just twenty five more years of university press blog ads.
Posted by: dave hoffman | Mar 25, 2010 11:34:53 AM
Clearly, I'm biased toward folks who write about sex.
Posted by: Zak Kramer | Mar 25, 2010 4:56:15 PM
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