This chapter provides a history of East Coast legal realism, which is what many scholars think of as "legal realism," and its relationship to subsequent jurisprudential movements down to the New Legal Realism. It maintains that jurisprudentially, legal realism was nothing special. Yet, while it simply built on Holmesian skepticism and sociological jurisprudence, legal realism also represented a position within the legal academy. Its East Coast adherents combined a vivid, polemical, modernism with functionalism and, frequently, left-of center politics during the 1920 and 1930s. They hoped to transform legal education. They tried to increase law's predictability for students, practitioners, and judges, by acknowledging that legal rules, as traditionally derived, did not guarantee legal certainty. Having cleared the ground of underbrush by showing how law was not made, East Coast realists freed themselves and judges to formulate. more accurate, improved legal rules, concepts, and principles. By highlighting the role of idiosyncrasy in judicial decision-making, focusing on fact-patterns involved in disputes, and reaching out to the social sciences, East Coast realists hoped to make law more predictable, efficient and a better tool of policy. Though they achieved only limited success, East Coast legal realism cast a long shadow pedagogically, politically, and jurisprudentially.
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