Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Serving two masters

With the increase in interdisciplinary scholarship in law schools, more and more people are facing the problem of serving two masters. A law and economics scholar, for instance, might get the reaction: "interesting, but not law," just as a legal historian might hear, "interesting, but not relevant." Given that most academics are probably at least reasonably open to historical research--everyone likes a good story, after all--I have been trying to figure out the best way to balance the expectations of both the legal historian (emphasis on historian) and the lawyer parts of my potential audience. One undoubtedly sound piece of advice I have received is to pick one's topics carefully. Unfortunately, research has a way of developing in unexpected directions. I am also still finding it uncomfortable to manufacture "relevance" to please law review editors, in part because I, of course, always think that the subject of my research is worth publishing, and in part because it seems to be against self-interest to confess that the study of the past of the law merely for its own sake is frivolous. I, and probably all the other untenured faculty who read this blog, would be interested to hear how others have dealt with this issue.