Monday, September 12, 2011

Q & A with Lawrence Friedman: the first book

Note to readers:  This is the first in a series of questions and answers with Lawrence Friedman.  If you have a question you've wanted to ask him, please post it in a comment, or email me.

Question:  For your first book, Contract law in America: a social and economic case study, what led you to that particular topic?  And why did you start writing books, when so many legal scholars, especially at the time, mostly wrote articles?

(from Lawrence Friedman):

It's an analysis and contrast between the case-law of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in three distinct historical periods.  It's pure socio-legal history, in the tradition of Willard Hurst, who indeed may have been the one who suggested the topic (I honestly don't remember).  But if he didn't suggest it, he inspired it.
Willard Hurst

And Hurst-- a wonderful man; it was a privilege to know him--always encouraged new faculty members to aim high; to choose a difficult, long-term project, and stick with it. We used to call this, jokingly, Willard's 5-year plans. But the "5-year plan" implies either a series of articles-- or a book. And I liked the idea of writing an actual book. I know that this wasn't the norm in legal academia. But I cared very little for the norm in legal academia. Then and now. And Wisconsin at that time was just the place to be for those who felt this way.