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Over the last thirty years, the legal academy has turned a cold shoulder to the subject matter of this symposium: scholarship for equal justice. I am here to suggest that a thaw may be on the way. By scholarship for equal justice – as distinguished from scholarship about that topic – I mean academic work undertaken for the purpose of improving outcomes for individuals and members of groups who have been systematically held back by their race, sex, poverty, or any other basis for rationing success that our legal system treats with suspicion. With reference to some of my own work and that of other legal academics around the country, I want to suggest the possibility of a new scholarship for equal justice that can satisfy this definition, and can be a powerful instrument of change, without violating academic norms favoring objectivity over advocacy. In the process, I offer some off-the-cuff thoughts about how the academy arrived at its longstanding distaste for scholarship for equal protection, why things may be changing, where those changes may be leading equal justice-oriented scholarship, and what kinds of serious, everyday social problems this new scholarship might help to solve.


Law | Legal Education | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Legal Profession