Friday, October 12, 2012

Batlan Answers "Eight Questions" about Legal History

Legal history is in the spotlight this week at In the Service of Clio, a blog run by professor Nick Sarantakes (U.S. Naval War College). For a while now he has been asking historians in various areas (e.g. World History, Southern History, Urban History) "eight questions" about the state of their fields. This week he interviewed legal historian Felice Batlan (Chicao-Kent College of Law). Here's a taste:
What is the biggest issue facing your field? The history profession?

Obviously, the university is in a period of transition, which reflects larger economic problems and ideological commitments. The question that we all face is what is the value of higher education, who should pay for it, should universities be producers of knowledge, and what makes knowledge valuable? From the perspective of the law school, legal education always has been pulled between seeing itself as part of a broad liberal arts education or as a trade school. In part (the loaded question is) should we be producing citizen lawyers or simply skilled practitioners. As the market for lawyers contracts, law schools are downsizing. Few law schools are willing to have more than one or two legal historians on faculty and very few legal historians teach only legal history. There are some commentators writing about the future of law schools who believe that a small number of elite law schools will have faculty who produce scholarship and the remainder of law schools will have primarily practitioners as faculty. Like the field of history more generally, legal historians are continually asked to justify the value of teaching legal history to students who will be practitioners.
Read the full interview here.