Slaw IS Widely Read, Quoted Too

“If you build it, he will come.” (Field of Dreams (1998))

If you write it on Slaw, be prepared to be quoted.

I was watching Roy Halliday pitch, tonight. The game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds was on TV. It was scoreless through almost 11 full innings. Philly scored in the bottom of the 11th to win, 1-0. The Reds pitcher – a rookie making only his 3rd start in the show – lost his perfect game in the top of the 9th. He surrendered his first and only hit. Halliday was “almost” as good. He gave up only 5, none well-hit. 

Jays fans will remember that Halliday once pitched for the Jays and lost a no-hitter and a shut-out in the top of the 9th. He still won, though. This is the second time in two weeks that I’ve had the pleasure of watching Halliday perform, even if it was on tv. Last Monday night, I did that while sitting in a tavern in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, drinking Sam Adams and eating good chicken wings.

The introduction has nothing to do with the title of this post, other thanto explain why I had to time to do other things than watch the game: not that it would surprise many who know me to hear that I was doing something else while watching a baseball game (other than sleeping, that is). So, having set the stage …

One of the other things I was doing was searching in Google Scholar for new, relevant, references to one of my current research interests: factual causation. Using my surname helps to limit the number of hits. One hit was, shall we say, surprising. It was a quotation, in a recently published U.S. text on legal eductation, from something I wrote on Slaw more than three years. I’d written, in a comment:

One question the writers of “legal eduction” studies might ask – perhaps they have, I’ve never bothered to look – is “what does it tell us about law as a discipline that so many people who claim they’re no good at math, sciences, philosophy, logic etc. (and whose transcripts show it), manage to get into law school and then do reasonably well”?

A recent text, Randall Kiser, Beyond Right and Wrong: The Power of Effective Decision Making for Attorneys and Clients (Springer, 2010), at 154-55, in the chapter titled “Law School Eductation?, sub-section titled “Probabilistic Decision Making and Statistical Analysis” quoted the not-so-rhetorical question as the summary for that section, introducing it this way: “The question posed by David Cheifetz, a Canadian barrister and solicitor and the author of Apportionment of Fault in Tort, remains a challenge to the law school admissions process and the legal profession: .. “. The context of Mr. Kiser’s use of the quotation was established by the first sentence in the sub-section:

The casebook method introduces students to legal philosophy, opinion writing and some substantive law principles, but it neglects the methodological reasoning, probabilisitic decision making, and qualitative evaluation skills essential to accurate assessment of clients’ positions and likely case outcomes.

 Mr. Kiser also wrote, quoting from (not surprisingly) a paper in the law and economics area published by the University of Chicago, written by a law professor at that school:

He [the professor] depicts law as a field functioning in the pre-science, pre-modern era: “legal practice seems at odds with scientific logic, or at least with probabilistic reasoning.”

I suppose it’s a good thing he didn’t go on to include my use of the Quinn v. Leathem dictum about the illogic of law and my rhetorical statement-question, in the first comment in that thread, that “something which functions in a manner analogous to a western religion can’t always be logical, can it?”

Unfortunately for my book sales, Apportionment of Fault in Tort is (1) not a text likely to be purchased by many U.S. readers , (2) Mr. Kiser doesn’t cite the publication details, and (3) in any event it is long out of print. On the other hand, he spelled my surname correctly.

In due course, I suppose I’ll get the Kiser text from a library, or borrow it from some other source, and look through it. For now, I can find better use for the money it would cost to purchase it: $100-$140 (used to new, on Amazon and Chapters/Indigo). I suppose I could hope that somebody from Springer (the text publisher) happens to read Slaw and decides it would be worth sending me review copy. But then I’d have to read it and review it, right?


  1. Good find, David. For the curious, this link should take you to footnote 46 in Kiser’s book, where the reference to Cheifetz and Slaw can be found.

  2. Thanks. We’ve got the book’s references (to me) bracketed. My note provided a link to p. 154. Yours is to p. 155.

  3. I used to use graphs when teaching students about the law of damages for breach of contract. I thought that they were particularly useful for explaining the features of interest, both simple and compound, and for illustrating the actual difference between awards of damages (with and without interest) and specific performance. Students often complained that “they hadn’t come to law school to learn math!” I have also been told that compound interest is too complicated to be required of first year students, at least that the beginning of first year.

    Some time ago, the front page of the O.R.’s had a ad that claimed that a certain law firm was six times something and illustrated the claim with a big figure one to the power of 6! [I seem unable to show this expression in mathematical symbols, a superscript is impossible on Slaw—a comment on Slaw and maths, perhaps?]

    My Recaptcha words are “interest” and “helmsmen”!

  4. In a bit of serendipity? irony? I walked out of court yesterday morning just in time to catch the tag end of a conversation between two lawyers. I assumed they were lawyers because they were gowned, with collars closed and tabs on, even though they were sitting in the corridor (and in the heat).

    One said to the other, in substance: I went into law because medicine requires knowledge of statistics. (ta-dum)