Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The size and organization of the bar, the lawyer's conception of his or her role, and the general style of legal education in a society reflect the historic position of the lawyer and the society's traditional conception of law. This chapter begins with a discussion of American legal education because its style and approach are closely related both to the importance of decisional law in common law legal systems and to the problem of maintaining legal unity in the American federal system.
Before considering educational arrangements, some remarks are in order respecting American legal philosophy. Speaking generally, the schools that have flourished in the United States parallel those found in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe. Liberalism, utilitarianism, natural-law theories, sociological jurisprudence, conceptualism, functionalism, interest analysis, legal realism, economic analysis, and logical positivism are among the conceptual and intellectual systems that have influenced American legal thinking.
Historically, a rough parallelism exists between philosophical movements in American and European legal thinking. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when a conceptual and formal jurisprudence (Begriffsjurisprudenz) based on the premise that the law was logically complete (die logische Geschlossenheit des Rechts) was widespread in Europe, the same assumption of a complete body of pre-existent law supported a mechanical jurisprudence in the United States.
In time, sociological jurisprudence and legal realism challenged this premise in the United States just as did such theories as Interessenjurisprudenz in Germany and Geny's libre recherche scientifique in France.