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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Development of the Decade in Legal Academia?

I’m usually not a huge fan of “Year in Review” lists. I don't even watch “I Love the 70s/80s/90s.”  But over the past few weeks, decade retrospectives have become about as consciousness-permeating as holiday music, and somehow I find that I can’t resist the urge to look back.

So let’s hear it: What was the most significant development in legal academia this decade?  I mean the question to be as broad as possible, so feel free to nominate areas of study, hiring practices, or whatever else you think matters.

Since I started the thread, I’ll also grab what seems to me to be the lowest-hanging fruit: blogging.  Whether or not its influence it will be “transformative” in a lasting way remains to be seen, I suppose, but it’s certainly transformed the way that legal scholars write, think, and exchange ideas.

And be thinking about your votes for Article of the Decade (i.e., anything with a publication date between 2000 and 2009). I'll start a thread for that sometime soon.

Posted by Joseph Blocher on December 8, 2009 at 03:50 PM | Permalink


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The increase in teaching lawyering skills and the professionalism of legal writing/rhetoric.

Posted by: Anthony N. | Dec 11, 2009 11:57:04 AM

We're looking at this over at the Conglomerate. Not yet mentioned: ExpressO, typed exams, and SSRN!

Posted by: David Z | Dec 10, 2009 2:35:40 PM

The slow crumbling away of the 1l curriculum, with its antique emphasis on private law that dates from Gaius' Institutes or Justinian's Digest, and the growth of mandatory public law courses on the administrative state -- for instance, NYU's Administrative & Regulatory State and Harvard's new course.

Posted by: Rick Hills | Dec 10, 2009 12:38:11 PM

International Law. When I was a student at Boalt Hall twenty years ago, I thought that international law was useless. How things have changed! Economic globalization, climate change, international terrorism, genocide, war crimes . . . can international law ever be ignored again? Even U.S. constitutional interpretation has been affected by international legal insights.

Posted by: Francisco Forrest Martin | Dec 9, 2009 9:40:42 AM

I'd say the iPhone. Just because it's so cool.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Dec 9, 2009 9:22:58 AM

The increased use of blackboard, which will lead (more or less inevitably) to distance learning & the decline of our salary differential.

Oh, and nuts to evolutionary biology. The cultural cognition project will triumph over all comers. :)

Posted by: dave hoffman | Dec 8, 2009 11:59:11 PM

I find it interesting that so far nobody has mentioned an approach to legal scholarship. In earlier decades someone might have nominated law & economics or critical legal studies. My nomination for the most innovative approach to legal scholarship in this decade is the incorporation of evolutionary biology, cognitive science, neuroscience and similar fields into legal scholarship. SSRN has recently added journals on these topics, including Law & Evolution http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=1458010&netorjrnl=jrnl , Law & Neuroscience http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=1457975&netorjrnl=jrnl , Law & Prosociality http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=1458113&netorjrnl=jrnl , and Law, Cognition, & Decisionmaking http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/topten/topTenResults.cfm?groupingId=1458116&netorjrnl=jrnl .

Posted by: Scott Fruehwald | Dec 8, 2009 10:35:24 PM

The digitization of legal research materials. The law library of today is much different than it was 10 years ago. I remember my physics teacher in high school requiring us to use a slide rule. He told us that we could not rely on the availability of calculators. I think that books are quickly going the way of slide rules.

Posted by: Richard Gershon | Dec 8, 2009 8:13:09 PM

I agree on the rise of VAPs/fellowships as the entry into the academy. I would add the rise of blogs and on-line law review supplements, which changed some of what we do in our scholarship.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Dec 8, 2009 6:32:52 PM


Posted by: Bertrall Ross | Dec 8, 2009 6:22:58 PM

Before the recession, I would've joined Prof. Kerr in saying the omnipresent influence of the U.S. News rankings, hands down. But sneaking up on that are the ongoing tsunami effects of the economic meltdown, the full brunt of which we have yet to fully comprehend. Perhaps the 2000s were about U.S. News, but we may look back and say that for these purposes, the 2000s ended during September 2008.

Posted by: David Yamada | Dec 8, 2009 6:22:06 PM

The Snuggie!

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Dec 8, 2009 5:35:03 PM

The changing job market for students as a function of the changing market for legal services.

Posted by: David Levine | Dec 8, 2009 5:24:17 PM

The rise of VAPs and the increased number of PhDs in the law teaching market.

Posted by: Micah Schwartzman | Dec 8, 2009 5:04:07 PM

The influence of "U.S. News & World Report."

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Dec 8, 2009 4:40:43 PM

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