Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America

(Encounter Books, 2011)

Book Forum
March 3, 2011 4:00PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring the author Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute; with comments by Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; moderated by Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs, Cato Institute.

The ideas that emanate from the nation’s law schools in one generation often wind up shaping law and national policy in the next. But as Cato senior fellow Walter Olson argues in this new book, for more than four decades the nation’s law schools have been a hatchery of bad ideas, from tort and contract theories to class actions, environmental law, racial reparations, the recasting of domestic policy differences as questions of international human rights, and more. Yet the common theme is to confer power and status on the schools’ own graduates and faculty, as law pervades ever wider areas of life. The pipe dream of training up philosopher-monarchs, Olson says, distracts law schools from their genuinely useful function of training competent, ethical, and suitably humble practitioners of the law.