enjoyed the visit
posted by Alfred Brophy
Since I’ve already overstayed my announced visit of a couple of weeks, I figure it’s time to go before I wear out my welcome. It’s been fun commenting on such diverse issues as images of property in landscape art, legal realism and fashion consulting, the Ann Coulter Talking Doll, 1950s and 2000s conservatism, the history of the book, state funding for preservation of cemeteries, and even a few unexpected topics–like suggestions for US News’ ranking system, horror movie director Wes Craven’s insights for law professors, the intellectual origins of Roe v. Wade in, of all places, Tuscaloosa, and Fanny and Ralph Ellison. Of course, nothing gets attention like navel-gazing, so I shouldn’t be surprised that the post that generated the most attention (not much competition here, really) was on the implications of law review citations for law school rankings.
I’d hoped to comment a little on recent articles (like Kenneth Mack’s brilliant article on “Civil Rights Lawyering and Politics Before Brown“) and books in legal history, though my day job interfered with putting us as many posts as I’d hoped. So let me put in a brief mention for a wonderful book, which I recently read: Laura Kalman’s Yale Law School and the Sixties.
If you’re looking for a holiday present for a Yalie (or even a non-Yalie, like me, who’s interested in legal education or recent legal thought), I highly recommend it. It’s a beautifully written and engaging story of Yale students and faculty in the 1960s and early 1970s. But it’s much more than a story about Yale–it’s about changes in legal thought and in American society more generally in those important and troubled times. I love it and I suspect you will, too. Because I went to law school in the mid-1980s, when Yale was dominant in (particularly left-leaning) legal theory, I had assumed that it had been so for decades. I was familiar only a limited set of points of data regarding Yale’s history. I knew Robert Cover’s terrific volume, Justice Accused, which though I’ve read it a half-dozen times or so, continues to led me to me more insight on legal theory and legal history. Charles Black (who was then emeritus at Yale) was one of my teachers and everyone was still then talking about Charles Reich’s New Property. So I had, until reading Laura’s book, erroneously assumed that Yale had been a bastion of liberalism for a very long time. I must have thought that Robert Bork’s presence on the faculty was an aberration. Anyway, Kalman’s book is a great read and it’s a great example of how a biography (of a school) can tell the story of an era. Makes me wonder, of course, how much the changes YLS went through relate to other schools. My own school, the University of Alabama, had a rather different history. I hope there will be some symposia dedicated to the book, where folks can talk about YLS’s representativeness. And how other schools, which do not receive as much attention as YLS, contributed to changes in legal thought.
I’ve enjoyed my visit at concurringopinions and appreciate the hospitality of the crew here. And I’ve gained even more respect than I had before for the folks who blog on an on-going basis. I don’t know how they do it!