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Courts have long looked to the legal academy for guidance in the development of doctrine and for a critique of their work product. For many decades, the academy has played a vital role in its interaction with both the bench and bar by providing lucid analysis of case law and setting forth a theoretical framework for new and yet-uncharted causes of action. But, for reasons that escape me, many in the legal academy no longer share the view that they have a responsibility to contribute to the discourse with the legal profession. Fifteen years ago, Judge Harry T. Edwards in a seminal article bemoaned “the growing disjunction between legal education and the legal profession.” Since then, matters have gotten worse. The chief judge of the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Dennis Jacobs, recently told the New York Times, “I haven’t opened up a law review in years.” At a recent Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law symposium dealing with the waning influence of law reviews, nearly all the judges in attendance agreed that law review articles had a minimal impact on jurisprudence. Judges and lawyers alike tell us that they no longer read the reviews because they lack relevance to the work that they do; that they are too theoretical and too esoteric. In short, we are being told that the academy is out of touch. Interdisciplinary work Let me be clear. The infusion into the legal academy of professors with doctorates in economics, philosophy, psychology and sociology has brought perspectives into the law school curriculum that have enriched the academy and brought new insights into the law. But the idea that the legal academy is a closed club that speaks only to each other and not to the bench and bar is decidedly not healthy. If interdisciplinary work is to have an impact on the changing face of the law, it must be made accessible to lawyers and judges who are not schooled in other disciplines. And the scholars must demonstrate that the theories they set forth have real-world relevance that makes a difference. In addition, courts are faced daily with issues of incredible complexity and sophistication, and they need the thinking of the best and the brightest to help organize and wade through these problems. But young scholars today shy away from doing traditional doctrinal scholarship. The prestigious law reviews appear less interested in publishing such works, and younger faculty are justifiably afraid that, when tenure time comes around, their articles will be viewed as pedestrian. I often wonder whether the late William Prosser would be tenured today at a great law school. And I am almost certain that his article “The Assault on the Citadel,” published in the Yale Law Journal, would not grace its pages today. It would be viewed as “too much case crunching.” Never mind that it accelerated the demise of privity and the adoption of strict tort liability in less than a decade. We are told that lawyers and judges have no time to read because of their heavy workload. But they have time to read and digest the Restatements of the Law and the lengthy comments that are appended to them as well as the voluminous Reporters’ Notes. Whereas citations to law reviews have plummeted, this past year alone there were more than 3,000 citations to Restatements. Some may say that Restatements are anti-intellectual and not the product of sophisticated analysis of law and policy. This is simply not the case. In drafting the Products Liability Restatement, my co-reporter, Professor Jim Henderson Jr., and I struggled with difficult issues of public policy. We received hundreds of critical comments from the bench, bar and legal academy. But the one criticism we never heard was that our work was irrelevant. Law schools and the law reviews need to do some serious soul searching. Even when writing about the influence of other disciplines, they need to insist on clear and understandable scholarship that judges and lawyers can utilize in their work. Moreover, the academy needs to aim for greater balance and recognize that there is room for true doctrinal scholarship. Academicians can address different audiences in their writings so that the isolation of the legal academy from the legal profession will diminish. Aaron D. Twerski is a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and also serves as special counsel to New York-based Herzfeld and Rubin. He was the 2007 recipient of the Robert C. McKay Law Professor Award, presented for the past 20 years by the Torts and Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association to an academic for his or her “commitment to the advancement of justice, scholarship and the legal profession demonstrated by outstanding contributions to the fields of tort and insurance law.” Among earlier recipients of the award have been such scholars as Robert Rabin and Charles Alan Wright, and judges Richard Posner and Robert Keeton. This piece is adapted from his speech before the ABA on Aug. 12.

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