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Chicago-Kent College of Law




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 Judges do not cite theoretical articles often; they rarely "apply" theories to particular cases.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.


Boston University School of Law Working Paper Series, Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper No. 01-14

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