John Gava, ‘Legal Scholarship Today’

ABSTRACT
On the surface, legal scholarship in Australia today is flourishing. Never before have we seen so much diversity nor have we seen so much being published in our law journals. But if we consider the nature of law and legal scholarship, it will become apparent that much of what is published is inappropriate, misguided, or unnecessary.

This paper proceeds as follows. First, I will argue that legal academics should not see their task as one of writing for judges and the legal profession because scholarship and professional writing are different things with different aims and different aspirations. Rather, they should write as scholarly outsiders, not as part of the legal profession. Secondly, I will argue that the pressure to publish that is imposed on legal academics in the contemporary, management-run university has blinded too many legal academics to the essential nature of the law – a nature which demands time, effort, and humility. To achieve some sense of mastery in the complex and often contradictory materials that make up the law, we need to recognise that prolific writing runs the danger of being superficial or repetitive. Law is akin to philosophy in that we are engaged in a conversation with the best of the past about problems and solutions that have been with us forever.

Gava, John, Legal Scholarship Today (May 6, 2021). University of Adelaide Law Research Paper No 2021-38, Adelaide Law Review, volume 40, 2019.

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