The legal profession in this country is slowly awakening to the realization that, as Robert Hutchins suggested thirty years ago, it is becoming a technical trade. At the beginning of this century, its “law schools” had gained from the colleges a monopoly of the basic tools of finance and economics, as well as those of politics, jurisprudence, and social welfare—the instruction in contracts, agency, corporations, trusts, sales, credit transactions, property, taxation, wills, and estates, and in torts, criminal law personal relations, constitutional and administrative law. Now the emphasis is on techniques—drafting, sophistic reasoning, organizing, administering, financing, selling, and buying. Increasingly, law-school graduates are “admitted to the bar” as members of the judicial body and from then on never function in that capacity. They are immediately solicited by banking and business, by real estate and insurance, by administrative agencies—the SEC, Internal Revenue, Labor Relations, HEW, the ICC, the “White House,” the “Pentagon.”
Meanwhile, as law schools have grown (practically none existed 100 years ago), they have quietly retreated from the basic field of law relinquished to them by the colleges, the field of jurisprudence. Jurisprudence is the study of justice, “of what is right, just”—the essentially theological and philosophical foundations of governmental laws. Jurisprudence is no longer taught by theologians who are college presidents or deans—by Princeton’s John Witherspoon, Yale’s Timothy Dwight, or Georgetown’s Father Carroll. If offered, it is an elective. And jurisprudence also has been transmuted imperceptibly into a technical course on laws, “positive law”—legis, not juris, prudentia: a study of how the ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more