Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Professor Jenkins maintains that Americans demand that "the law solve all of [their] problems and secure all of [their] purposes." The result is that we "so overload the legal apparatus that it short circuits, creating a spectacular display of fireworks but affecting nothing save its own wreckage."' That assertion, even if only partially accurate, merits close and continuing attention. Jenkins' analysis of that hypothesis--that proposition-is at once thought-provoking and illuminating. We are all in his debt for having written such a challenging book, even though I have some fundamental disagreements with how he develops that theme. Jenkins' work is a significant contribution and should be on the reading list of all lawyers--certainly all lawyers in Academia, whether in the professoriate or the student body. Unfortunately, although this book is essential reading, I do not expect my recommendation to be followed. The study of law is far too vocational, too reductionist, and too concentrated on the nuts-and-bolts of what lawyers do. Law schools annually graduate thousands who have managed to survive the nit-picking boredom of law classes, but those graduates find that they know very little about law. They know many rules of law, and thus can and do readily pass bar examinations; but they have little conception of the role of law in a polity that trumpets that it has a "government of laws, not of men." Reading Jenkins will not correct all of that sorry state of affairs-far from it. It will, however, help those who read and heed it to "analyze the context from which law derives,the environment within which it exists and acts, the enduring problems with which it has to deal, and the conditions it must satisfy if it is to succeed.""