"Why We Write" by Associate Dean for Research William S. Dodge
Trashing legal scholarship has become something of a sport. Chief Justice Roberts complained recently that law reviews are filled with articles like "the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria." The reality is quite different. As illustrated in this issue, UC Hastings faculty write about things that matter, and their scholarship influences both courts and policymakers.
At the heart of "engaged scholarship" is scholarship—careful, time-consuming research and analysis that explores a problem in greater depth than most lawyers, judges, and policymakers have time for. As Mary Kay Kane says, “We are members of the legal profession but we have the luxury of time to think. So we have an obligation to improve the law.”
Our faculty’s influence on courts shows in our statistics on court citations. Just last Term, Justice Alito cited Rory Little’s article on the historical understanding of the Sixth Amendment to suggest that the Supreme Court should reconsider its position on proving sentencing factors. UC Hastings professors are also translating their research to have a direct impact on policymakers. The White House recently relied on Robin Feldman’s work on patent trolls in making recommendations to Congress, while Joan Williams’ theories of family-responsibilities discrimination have changed policy at the EEOC. Other faculty take a longer-term approach, akin to basic research in the sciences. Thus, at a time when the Supreme Court is adopting a colorblind theory of equal protection, Osagie Obasogie’s study of how blind people see race challenges the very possibility of colorblindness.
Finally, our faculty is bringing scholarship into the classroom. As UC Hastings Director Chip Robertson notes, research makes better teachers. Imagine the chance to take Scientific Evidence from David Faigman as the California Supreme Court adopts his positions on expert testimony, or Military Law from Beth Hillman while she advises the Pentagon. These are the opportunities UC Hastings students have today—and they are enriched by "engaged scholarship."
Read More: UC Hastings Magazine, Fall 2013.