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Encyclopedia > Karl Llewellyn

Karl Llewellyn (1893-1962) was a prominent American jurisprudential scholar associated with the school of legal realism. Legal realism is a family of theories about the nature of law developed in the first half of the 20th century in the United States (American Legal Realism) and Scandinavia (Scandinavian Legal Realism). ...

He was born in Seattle but grew up in Brooklyn. He attended Yale College and Yale Law School where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal, and was a protege of the great contracts scholar, Arthur Linton Corbin. He joined the faculty at Columbia Law School in 1925, where he remained until 1951, when he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. While at Columbia, Llewellyn became one of the major legal scholars of his day, and was a major figure in the debate over legal realism. He also served as principal drafter of the Uniform Commercial Code. Yale can refer to an educational institution: Yale University, one of the United States oldest universities. ... Yale Law School, established in 1843 in New Haven, Connecticut, is a division of Yale University. ... Columbia Law School, located in New York City, is one of the professional schools of Columbia University and one of the leading law schools in the United States. ... The University of Chicago Law School is a part of the University of Chicago. ... Legal realism is a family of theories about the nature of law developed in the first half of the 20th century in the United States (American Legal Realism) and Scandinavia (Scandinavian Legal Realism). ... The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is one of the uniform acts that has been promulgated in attempts to harmonize the law of sales and other commercial transactions in the fifty state in the United States of America. ...

Llewellyn and the legal realists put significantly more emphasis on the facts of a specific case than on general legal rules. Law, the realists contended, is not a deductive science. He is famous for his statement that (referring to judges, sheriffs, clerks, jailers and lawyers), ‘[w]hat these officials do about disputes is, to my mind, the law itself.’(The Bramble Bush, pg 3). While this predictive approach to defining law of the law was criticised as incomplete by H.L.A. Hart in his book 'The Concept of Law', it has had a significant impact on jurisprudence generally. H. L. A. Hart (Herbert Lionel Adolphus Hart) (1907-1992) is considered one of the most important legal philosophers of the twentieth century. ...

Llewellyn published a number of books, among them the postumously-published The Case Law System in America (1989), and Jurisprudence: Realism in Theory and Practice (1962); The Common Law Tradition-Deciding Appeals (1960); The Cheyenne Way (with E. Adamson Hoebel) (1941), and The Bramble Bush (1930), which was written especially for first-year law students.


Twining, William, "Karl Llewellyn and the Realist Movement" (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1973).

Liebman, George W., "The Common Law Tradition: A Collective Portrait of Five Legal Scholars" (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers 2005).

  Results from FactBites:
Legal realism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (470 words)
The most famous representatives of American Legal Realism were Karl Llewellyn, Jerome Frank, Robert Lee Hale, Felix Cohen, Thurman Arnold, Hessel Yntema, Max Radin, and Leon Green.
Many of the realists were interested in sociological and anthropological approaches to the study of law.
Karl Llewellyn's book The Cheyenne Way is a famous example of this tendency.
  More results at FactBites »



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