The Possibilities and Perils of Legal Studies
The paper explores the possibilities and perils of an interdisciplinary approach to legal studies emerging as an alternative intellectual paradigm to the doctrinal tradition within legal scholarship. The privileged status accorded to the doctrinal tradition within the legal academy is sustained by its continued importance in providing a link between law as a field of intellectual inquiry and law as a field of professional practice. Despite the promise of a more pluralistic intellectual climate within the legal academy, it seems unlikely that an interdisciplinary approach to legal studies will succeed in challenging the preeminence of legal doctrine as the primary source of professional-knowledge claims about law. At the same time, however, any attempt to claim legal studies as a separate field of intellectual inquiry outside the legal academy confronts many of the same doubts about the nature of law as a unitary object of knowledge as the doctrinal tradition from which it seeks to distance itself. The paradox of the legal studies project is that whenever it tries to free itself from the embrace of the doctrinal tradition, it confronts epistemological doubts about the conditions for its own existence. It appears, therefore, that the legal studies project is destined to continue its labours in the shadow of the law.