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The Bramble Bush: The Classic Lectures on the Law and Law School

by Joshua Blechner
New York Law Journal
August 20, 2008

Joshua Blechner's book review "The Bramble Bush: The Classic Lectures on the Law and Law School," was published in the August 20, 2008 issue of the New York Law Journal

From the article...

"There are many good books to prepare an entering law student for the rigors and alien thought-processes of law school, but the oldest, and still best, is Karl Llewellyn's 'The Bramble Bush,' which arose from a series of lectures in 1929-1930 to first-year law students at Columbia Law School.

Privately printed in 1930 with the modest note, 'Tentative Printing for the Use of Students at Columbia University School of Law, New York, 1930,' the book has since become compulsory reading for first-year law students across the country. The book has been due for a new edition for some time -- it has not been updated or edited since 1951, and some of Llewellyn's observations and allusions may not be completely intelligible to modern readers. Thankfully, the Oxford University Press has now reissued the book with a new introduction, footnotes, and an index by professor Steve Sheppard of the University of Arkansas School of Law. Sheppard's welcome updates make the book more accessible and useful, and ensure that it will remain essential reading for any entering law student, or indeed for any lawyer, interested in mastering the craft of the law.

Sheppard lightly annotates Llewellyn's text to explain archaic language (such as 'Satevpost,' which is the then-popular but now long-defunct, weekly magazine, Saturday Evening Post), update examples (such as the current minimum dollar amount required for federal diversity jurisdiction), and provide sources for Llewellyn's sometimes eccentric quotations and allusions (the title, 'The Bramble Bush,' for example, comes from an 18th-century nursery rhyme that surely is not common-knowledge today). He keeps Llewellyn's text including the prefaces to all editions and the majestic afterward (except that the subtitle has been changed from 'On Our Law and Its Study' to the more literal 'The Classic Lectures on the Law and Law School')."