The Transformation of an Academic Discipline: Law Professors in the Past and Future (or Toy Story Too)

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Law professors today must confront a crisis of identity Since the postCivil War era legal academics have perceived themselves first and foremost as lawyers They viewed their scholarship which typically advocated for law reform as a means of participating in the legal system This selfidentity is currently collapsing An increasing number of legal academics instead view themselves primarily as university professors This Article begins by tracing the historical development of the legal academic focusing in particular on the importance of professionalization The Article then explores the current crisis in the selfidentity of law professors as they face a distant and largely uninterested legal profession of lawyers and judges Finally the Article looks to the future If legal academics are to think of themselves chiefly as university professors rather than as practitioners then they might carve out a new professional niche by becoming interdisciplinary experts

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