Crisis of the Western Legal Tradition, The

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Berman, Harold J.
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FIRST PARAGRAPH(S)|That the Western legal tradition, like Western civilization as a whole, is undergoing in the twentieth century a crisis greater than it has ever known before, is something that cannot be proved by science. It is something that is known, ultimately, by intuition. I can only testify, so to speak, that I sense that we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis of legal values and of legal thought, in which our entire legal tradition is challenged-not only the so called "liberal" concepts of the past few hundred years but the very structure of Western legality which dates from the eleventh and twelfth centuries.|I should like, first, to indicate some of the principal characteristics of the Western legal tradition. Later I shall attempt to indicate some of the historical circumstances that brought it into being.|First, it is characteristic of the Western legal tradition that a relatively sharp distinction is made between legal institutions, on the one hand, including legal processes such as legislation and adjudication as well as legal rules and concepts which are generated in those processes and, on the other hand, religious, political, economic, and other types of social institutions. Second, in this tradition the administration of legal institutions is entrusted to a special class of people who engage in legal activities on a professional basis as a more or less full-time occupation. Third, such people, whether typically called lawyers as in England and America or jurists as in most other Western countries, are specially trained in a discrete body of higher learning, identified as legal learning, with its own professional literature and its own professional schools...
9 Creighton L. Rev. 252 (1975-1976)
Creighton University School of Law
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