Exploring Conflict over the Professor's Role in U.S. Legal Education

Theory v. Practice

by Carlo A. Pedrioli

Forthcoming April 2024

Tags: Law School Teaching, Legal History

ISBN 978-1-5310-2784-1
eISBN 978-1-5310-2785-8

In the United States, the professionalization of the role of the law professor, along with the professionalization of the legal field in general, began in the late nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century. Although the current role of the law professor is well-established as mainly academic, it has also been the subject of much controversy throughout the decades, and the longstanding critique of legal education as impractical preparation for the practice of law acquired new intensity and significance after the economic meltdown of 2008.

This monograph opens with an overview of post-2008 critiques of U.S. legal education and their implications for the the role of the law professor. The project then offers historical background on legal education in mainland Europe, England, and the U.S. before the late nineteenth century. The book proceeds by examining the development of the law professor role in the U.S. from the late nineteenth century to the present and discusses, in detail, the ongoing conflict between supporters of the scholar model and the practitioner model of the law professor. Several hybrid models also receive attention.

Both traditional and contemporary rhetorical theory, including Aristotelian rhetoric, invitational rhetoric, and cooperative rhetoric, inform the discussion. The project, as a treatment of a communication problem in the legal field, concludes with an explanation of how alternative discourse on the subject would be more productive to all stakeholders in legal education.


This text is part of CAP's Law School Teaching list. Complimentary copies of these texts are not available, as they are intended for professional development and are not designed for student use. Please contact sarah@cap-press.com with any questions about our Law School Teaching titles.


Carlo Pedrioli's Exploring Conflict over the Professor's Role in U.S. Legal Education: Theory v. Practice is a thorough, well-written, and meticulously well-documented study of the American law professor from an historical and descriptive perspective. He uses communication theory to bring together both self-views from law professors and views from their consumers: students, practicing lawyers, and judges. All of these groups will find valuable insights on themselves and on legal education. This book provides a valuable extension of theory, research, and practice into legal education in general and the role of law professors specifically.
— Douglas D. McFarland, Professor Emeritus of Law, Mitchell/Hamline School of Law
In this fascinating book, Professor Pedrioli explores a core tension between the law professor as a scholar and the law professor as a practitioner. His intriguing blend of communication studies with scholarship on legal education offers an entirely novel perspective on that perennial tension within the law professoriate, which has become so entrenched that it has attracted negative attention from many in the legal community and beyond. Professor Pedrioli applies persona theory to suggest a creative path beyond that stalemate, bringing a welcome fresh perspective to a stale impasse in legal education.
— Elizabeth Mertz, Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School

Comp Copy If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.