Numerous academic blogs pick up Professor Harold Lloyd’s journal article on why legal writing is doctrinal

Photo of Professor Harold Lloyd in the Professional Center Library in the Worrell Professional Center

Professor Harold Lloyd

Professor Harold Lloyd’s forthcoming article, “Why Legal Writing is ‘Doctrinal’ and More Importantly Profound,” has been promptly blogged in at least three places: Paul Caron, “Why Legal Writing Is ‘Doctrinal’ and Profound,” TaxProf Blog (March 29, 2018);  Christine Corcos, “Lloyd on Why Legal Writing Is Doctrinal and More Importantly Profound,” Law & Humanities Blog (March 30, 2018); and Scott Fruehwald, “Why Legal Writing Is ‘Doctrinal’ and More Importantly Profound by Harold Anthony Lloyd,” Legal Skills Prof Blog, (April 2, 2018). The article will be published in Volume 19 of the Nevada Law Journal. Nevada has the No. 1 legal writing program in the U.S. as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

Professor Lloyd’s article documents and expands upon a presentation he gave at Elon University School of Law on Dec. 8, 2017.  The article surveys the problematic use of “doctrinal” and “non-doctrinal” labels for law school courses, examines why legal writing is “doctrinal” (if we must use the “doctrinal” label for law school courses), and further explores modern semantic and cognitive-psychological insights embraced by legal writing as it is taught today.  The article also notes how legal writing provides an excellent modern example for other “doctrinal” courses.  In the spirit of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus,” Professor Lloyd uses the problematic “doctrinal” term as a ladder he hopes we can all toss away once we have climbed to clearer and better heights.

The abstract follows:

As long as we must use the questionable term “doctrinal” when referring to law school courses, this article challenges everyone (including law professors who teach legal writing) to stop directly and indirectly referring to legal writing as a “non-doctrinal” course. Use of the term “non-doctrinal” can be code for “lesser,” thereby suggesting that legal writing is less important than other law school courses. Erroneously coding legal writing as “lesser” damages legal education across the board. It damages students and law professors who do not teach legal writing by suggesting that legal writing, and the theory, skills, and insights taught in legal writing merit less of their time.  This, in turn, increases the odds that both students and other faculty will remain ignorant of the critical knowledge and skills that legal writing teaches. It also damages law professors who teach legal writing because it invites disparate treatment such as lack of tenure, lower pay, and lack of equal respect. As a result, law professors teaching legal writing encounter greater difficulties in publishing scholarship thereby depriving us all of the scholarship so silenced or deterred.

Such erroneous code also ignores the profound subject matters addressed in legal writing courses today, a number of which are briefly surveyed in this article. Such erroneous code further ignores fundamental principles of semantics and fundamental insights of modern cognitive psychology embraced by legal writing courses today. In addition, this article also explores why the term “doctrinal” should be replaced with such terms and phrases as “meaningful” when referring to courses and “proper subject matter” when referring to course content.

The full article can be found on Social Science Research Network (SSRN).  The article continues one line of Professor Lloyd’s scholarship which can be found in such other works as “Theory Without Practice Is Empty; Practice Without Theory Is Blind: The Inherent Inseparability of Doctrine and Skills;” “Raising the Bar, Razing Langdell;” and “Exercising Common Sense, Exorcising Langdell: The Inseparability of Legal Theory, Practice and the Humanities.”

Prior to joining Wake Forest law school’s faculty, Professor Lloyd was vice president and general counsel of The Fresh Market Inc. for approximately 10 years. Before that, he was a partner with the firm of Tuggle, Duggins & Meschan, P.A. where he had  a general commercial practice, which included representing clients in the areas of commercial contracts, commercial leasing, commercial lending, intellectual property, and commercial bankruptcy law.

Professor Lloyd has served as a co-editor-in-chief of The Second Draft, and has also served as the Ethics Chair for the Corporate Counsel Section of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA). Professor Lloyd’s legal interests include law and language, semiotics of law, rhetoric, interpretation theory, commercial transactions (including commercial leasing and other real property transactions), the practical art of commercial negotiation and drafting, and legal education theory and reform. In addition to his legal scholarship, Professor Lloyd enjoys genealogy, verse composition (some of which has been set to music), and the art of translation. His translations include the complete epigrams of Palladas and various French works including Racine’s Phedre and Moliere’s Tartuffe. Professor Lloyd graduated with high honors from Duke University School of Law and magna cum laude from Davidson College, where he majored in philosophy.