Law new is a concept that has been used in a variety of ways. Generally, it involves offering the kind of legal help that some clients need without impacting other areas of the firm’s main legal efforts. This type of approach can be an excellent way to create value for clients and the firm at the same time. This is especially important for firms that are not on a partner track and have other areas of the firm that generate significant revenue.
Many critics have a number of concerns about the concept. One is that embracing law new will transform legal scholarship into either public policy or social science, changing the structure of legal academics and the training of students. However, this is a mistaken fear. The goal of law new is not to change legal scholarship but rather to make it more capable of fulfilling its self-declared purposes. Moreover, while it would shift the relationship between law and other disciplines, it is not meant to replace those disciplines. The change in question is not a transformation of law into something else but rather an infusion of methods and concepts from outside legal studies to make it more capable of fulfilling its goals.
Another concern is that embracing law new will undermine the role of scholarly inquiry and undermine the intellectual foundations of jurisprudence. While this concern may well be legitimate, it is misplaced because law new does not mean a rejection of the value of jurisprudence but a recognition that scholars should examine the law from a different perspective in order to better understand its implications for society.
A third concern is that embracing law new will cause legal scholarship to lose its status as a prescriptive discipline. While it is true that legislators and administrators will not always or even often follow the recom mendations of legal scholars, it is also true that they are likely to adopt those recom mendations when they feel that they have been thoroughly tested by the scholars’ work.
In the end, all three of these concerns reflect a lack of understanding of what law new is about. At its core, it is about refocusing the study of law away from the search for intellectually coher ent patterns in existing law and towards searching for solutions that effec tively achieve policy goals. By adopting a more capacious conception of law, legal scholarship will be better able to meet its challenges in the real world. To do so, however, will require a rethinking of the entire field of legal scholarship. Until that happens, the legal academy will continue to struggle to fulfill its stated pur poses. This is a problem that the legal profession should take seriously.