Nearly a decade ago Steven Smith published something short called Legal Theories Nobody Believes.’ It is a searching, sobering assessment of the well-known work of two influential contemporary legal scholars. Like Smith, I do not recommend the two books. I mention the review because its memorable title telegraphs the main point Smith develops at length in his more recent and splendid book, Law’s Quandary. Smith’s thesis is that nobody or almost nobody believes what gets said in justification of what we do in the name of the law but meanwhile we go on practicing said law–and even charging clients more for our professional services. As Smith sees it, law’s quandary is that we are in collective bad faith about what we do in law. The practice of law goes along pretty much as it always has since the middle ages, but the cognoscenti no longer believe–indeed they disbelieve and regularly deny–law’s traditional theoretical supports.

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