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Courts

2008

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

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A New (And Better) Interpretation Of Holmes's Prediction Theory Of Law, Anthony D'Amato Jan 2008

A New (And Better) Interpretation Of Holmes's Prediction Theory Of Law, Anthony D'Amato

Faculty Working Papers

Holmes's famous 1897 theory that law is a prediction of what courts will do in fact slowly changed the way law schools taught law until, by the mid-1920s legal realism took over the curriculum. The legal realists argued that judges decide cases on all kinds of objective and subjective reasons including precedents. If law schools wanted to train future lawyers to be effective, they should be exposed to collateral subjects that might influence judges: law and society, law and literature, and so forth. But the standard interpretation has been a huge mistake. It treats law as analogous to weather ...