Law as Engineering

Law as Engineering

Thinking About What Lawyers Do

David Howarth

Law as Engineering proposes a radically new way of thinking about law, as a profession and discipline concerned with design rather than with litigation, and having much in common with engineering in the way it produces devices useful for its clients. It uses that comparison to propose ways of improving legal design, to advocate a transformation of legal ethics so that the profession learns from its role in the crash of 2008, and to reform legal education and research.

Chapter 5: Implications (2) – Legal research and teaching

David Howarth

Subjects: economics and finance, law and economics, law - academic, law and economics, law and society, legal theory


We now turn to the implications of the law-as-engineering approach for the smallest branch of the legal profession, but one through whose hands all prospective lawyers in many countries, including England and Wales, now pass, either at a university or during their professional formation – namely academic lawyers. It is worth prefacing this chapter with an observation about legal academic life in general. Legal academics exist in two worlds, the world of the university and the world of the law. The world of the university, notwithstanding government efforts to the contrary, tends towards the self-consciously impractical, towards disdain for the merely useful and towards drawing sharp distinctions between education (what universities do) and training (what lesser institutions do). The world of the law, especially in common law countries, is the opposite – it is self-consciously practical, disdains the merely theoretical and cares less about whether lawyers have well-stocked minds than about whether they know what they are doing.

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