Karl Llewellyn


Karl Llewellyn

Karl N. Llewellyn (1893–1962) was a prominent American jurisprudential scholar associated with the school of legal realism.

Biography

He was born in Seattle but grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Yale College and Yale Law School, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal, and was a protege of the great contracts scholar, Arthur Linton Corbin.

He joined the faculty at Columbia Law School in 1925, where he remained until 1951, when he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. While at Columbia, Llewellyn became one of the major legal scholars of his day, and was a major figure in the debate over legal realism. He also served as principal drafter of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). He was married to fellow law professor and UCC drafter Soia Mentschikoff, who went on to become dean of University of Miami School of Law.

Llewellyn and Legal Realism

Llewellyn and the legal realists put significantly more emphasis on the facts of a specific case than on general legal rules. Law, the realists contended, is not a deductive science. He is famous for his statement that (referring to judges, sheriffs, clerks, jailers and lawyers), ‘ [w] hat these officials do about disputes is, to my mind, the law itself.’ ("Bramble Bush", p. 3). While this predictive approach to defining law of the law was criticised as incomplete by H.L.A. Hart in his book "The Concept of Law", it has had a significant impact on jurisprudence generally. Indeed, it has been contended that Hart's legal positivism is closer to the legal realist position than first appears. Hart's response to the problem of legal rules being both binding on judges and simultaneously changeable is that rules are formed relative to context and are vulnerable to being unsettled. He must then argue that rules can guide conduct because they function in the context of taken for granted assumptions, a position not far from that which he claims to eschew.

Publications

*1989: "The Case Law System in America", translated by Karl Nickerson, edited and with an introduction by Paul Gewirtz, University of Chicago Press;
*1962: "Jurisprudence: Realism in Theory and Practice" (1962);
*1960: "The Common Law Tradition-Deciding Appeals" (1960);
*1941: "The Cheyenne Way" (with E. Adamson Hoebel) (1941),
*1930: "The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study" (1930), written especially for first-year law students.

References

*William Twining, "Karl Llewellyn and the Realist Movement" (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1973).
*George W. Liebman, "The Common Law Tradition: A Collective Portrait of Five Legal Scholars" (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers 2005).
*Mathieu Deflem. 2008. Sociology of Law: Visions of a Scholarly Tradition. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

External links

* [http://www.answers.com/topic/karl-llewellyn Introduction to Llewellyn at Answers.com]


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