Boston University School of Law Working Paper 01-14
Much has been written about theory and practice in the law, and the tension between practitioners and theorists. Judges do not cite theoretical articles often; they rarely "apply" theories to particular cases. These arguments are not revisited. Instead the Essay explores the working and interaction of theory and practice, practitioners and theorists.
The Essay starts with a story about solving a legal issue using our intellectual
tools-theory, practice, and their progenies: experience and "gut."
Next the Essay elaborates on the nature of theory, practice, experience
and "gut." The third part of the Essay discusses theories that
are helpful to practitioners and those that are less helpful. The Essay
concludes that practitioners theorize, and theorists practice. They use
these intellectual tools differently because the goals and orientations
of theorists and practitioners, and the constraints under which they act,
differ. Theory, practice, experience and "gut" help us think,
remember, decide and create. They complement each other like the two sides
of the same coin: distinct but inseparable.
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