Wednesday, February 2, 2011

US - China Deal Article Part of the "New" Legal Scholarship

Steven Davidoff is referred to as the "Deal Professor" by the NY Times in its regular Deal B%k feature of the business section. Today's article - Actions of U.S. and China Will Shape Deals to Come - is an outstanding and timely example of the changing face of legal scholarship.

Davidoff's article appears, on first reading, to be a standard op-ed piece, hardly rising to the level of what can be considered "traditional" legal scholarship. Closer reading of the article, however, supports a deeper analysis of the trade issues that exist between China and the United States. This analysis could hardly be possible without Davidoff's true scholarly roots. Thus, the foundations of his analysis and argument are based on his prior scholarship.

Davidoff's entire body of work, including his more "traditional" writing, his "popular" writing, and his more "casual" writing must be considered as part and parcel of his total scholarly output. Indeed, all such work by any member of the legal academy should be so considered if it rises to necessary level of academic discourse.

There might not be any footnotes in today's article but the academic mind is clearly in evidence. It is not mere reportage: it is reportage with an academic twist. Can't make up your mind? Consider his previous articles here, here, here, and here. Consider the body of work, not the individual article standing alone.

A recent trend in legal academic publishing has been the well-supported extended op-ed article or book. That kind of writing is clearly considered as scholarship by tenure committees and, increasingly, by the legal academy as a whole. Compare that kind of article with the article in question - it is all scholarship. The only real difference is one of degree, not kind.

Full Disclosure - Davidoff is a member of the faculty at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

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