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Inside the Minds of Legal Academics

Ever wonder how legal scholars get their start in academia? How they refine their theories? How their ideas have changed over the years? Or even what they thought of their own law school experience? James R. Hackney has posed all of these questions, and many more, to some of the great legal scholars of our time. In his new book, Legal Intellectuals in Conversation: Reflections on the Construction of Contemporary American Legal Theory, Hackney conducts one-on-one interviews with some of the most prominent legal scholars alive today.  He discusses how Richard Posner became interested in law and economics, and the development of feminist legal theory with Catharine MacKinnon. A law professor himself, James Hackney is no stranger to the worlds of legal academia and legal theory, and he asks probing questions in each of the interviews, often with surprising results. Richard Posner announces that he considers cognitive psychology as the new driver of law and economics; critical race theorist Patricia Wiliams comments that women of color in law school today may have a harder time gaining acceptance than she did during her time at Harvard Law School.

The ten interviews in the book also include Austin Sarat on law and society, Drucilla Cornell on postmodern legal theory, and Jules Coleman on law and philosophy. Each interview not only gives insight into the construction of each scholar's legal theories, but also insight into how their personal and formative experiences have shaped their ideas as well. The scholars comment candidly about their own professors, their feelings about other scholars in the book, and their predictions of where legal thought is headed today. For all their intellectual revelations, what is most satisfying about Legal Intellectuals in Conversation is how human these larger than life scholars truly are, and that it is their own humanity and thoughtfulness that has inspired them to do their life's work. Hackney's Legal Intellectuals in Conversation is highly recommended for anyone curious about the life and work of legal academics, whether familiar with their scholarship or not.

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