In October 1999, a distinguished group of scholars from different disciplines was convened to assess the evolution of law over the previous hundred years. Each contributor was asked to write about a particular area of law, or a theme in law and legal scholarship, tracing developments and interrelated changes in the legal and the social order.
In many ways, the 20th Century was law's century. Over those one hundred years, America placed law at the center of the major developments in the state and the economy. This was a truly vibrant and turbulent era for both law and legal scholarship: the repudiation of Langdellian formalism by the legal realists; the construction of the administrative state in the New Deal, to the civil rights revolution and the activism of the Warren Court; the litigation explosion and subsequent emergence of neo-liberal deregulation reforms; the fall of communism and the triumphant spread of the ideology of human rights through the globalization of law. Law played a crucial role in both responding to and initiating social change. It was deeply entangled in almost all of the important social, political, and cultural events of the last century. Changes both in law and its context have been enormous, and legal scholarship has had a difficult time keeping up. In recent years, it was invigorated by various interdisciplinary movements, each seeking to connect the study of law to developments in the social sciences and humanities. Yet the rapid pace of social and legal change poses a challenge to scholarship. Law 2000 took stock of law's century from the vantage point of the passing of the millenium, and looked over the horizon toward the next century.
In October 1999, a steering group consisting of Austin Sarat (Amherst College), Bryan Garth (American Bar Foundation), and Robert Kagan (UC/Berkeley) convened a distinguished group of scholars from different disciplines to assess the evolution of law over the previous hundred years: where it had been; how it responded to politics, society, and culture; and, in turn, how law precipitated social and legal change. Each contributor was asked to write about a particular area of law, or a theme in law and legal scholarship, tracing developments and interrelated changes in the legal and the social order. Among the topics covered were race and citizenship, individual and group identity, crime and punishment, the legal profession, democracy and freedom, the liberal state, corporate governance, civil society, teaching law, and the cultural life of law.
The edited essays were published in 2002 by Cornell University Press. Funding for this project was provided by the Charles Hamilton Houston Forum on Law and Justice of Amherst College; the offices of the Dean of Faculty and the President of Amherst College; the Center for Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley; the American Bar Association; and the American Academy.