The Path of the LawOliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The Path of the Law

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The Path of the Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Book Summary

Building on the pragmatic conception of law he introduced in his book 'The Common Law,' Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. -- by 1897 a jurist on Massachusetts' highest court and soon to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court -- explored the limits and sources of law, as well as "the forces which determine its content and growth." This presentation is seen as laying down the gauntlet to legal scholars and judges in what would be known as the emerging "legal realism" movement. Later legal thinkers like Pound, Llewellyn and Douglas followed his lead, and that lead is seen most clearly in this work.

By the time of this pithy and accessible writing, Holmes had crystallized and clarified that conception of law which he had, in introducing his earlier book, described in the famous statement "the life of the law is not logic: it is experience." Taking that observation to the next level, this work made it clear that judges make law, not simply finding it in books -- and they must draw on practical effects and ends in declaring legal rules, not simply reasoning from precedent. He does not hedge: it is a "fallacy" to think that "the only force at work in the development of the law is logic."

Part of the Legal Legends Series from Quid Pro Books, this ebook features quality digital formatting and presentation, close proofreading from the original text, and photographs of the author at various stages of his prodigious career. Also available in the series are explained and introduced editions of Holmes's 'The Common Law'; Benjamin Cardozo, 'The Nature of the Judicial Process'; and Woodrow Wilson, 'The State and Federal Governments of the United States.'

The Path of the Law (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.) Book Reviews

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