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Of the Library and the Law

The cross-section between academics and the actual practice of law clashed somewhat humorously for me thirty years ago. I was telling two very experienced trial lawyers that one of my law school’s evidence professors was working on an article regarding Congress’ 1934 Rules Enabling Act. They laughed loudly. These trial lawyers must have felt that the world of academia has little relevance to the world of the courtroom. (It is the Rules Enabling Act that led to the establishment of the Federal Rules of Procedure, which ultimately led to codified rules in the several states. Actually, it wasn’t until 1975 that Massachusetts adopted the Rules of Civil Procedure.)

Do the study of law and the study of evidence for example have relevance to the courtroom? Its role should not be overemphasized or underemphasized. You need law and facts. It is often said that the judge is the teacher of the law and the jury is the finder of facts. Each has a role and each deserves a healthy amount of respect. The presentation of each should be clear and comprehensive and the thorough practitioner will not skimp on either.

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