"[A] PRAGMATIC APPROACH [TO LAWISONE] THAT IS PRACTICAL AND INSTRUMENTAL RATHER THAN ESSENTIALIST?INTERESTED IN WHAT WORKS AND WHAT IS USEFUL RATHER THAN IN WHAT 'REALLY' IS. IT IS THEREFORE FORWARD-LOOKING, VALUING CONTINUITY WITH THE PAST ONLY SO FAR AS SUCH CONTINUITY CAN HELP US COPE WITH PROBLEMS OF THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE."
?RICHARD A. POSNER
Author, legal scholar, and federal judge, Richard A. Posner is one of the most influential and controversial figures in contemporary American law. Posner rose to prominence first in academia in the early 1970s, when he championed economic analysis of the law. With his faith in free-market capitalism and the goal of economic efficiency, he became one of the leaders of the so-called CHICAGO SCHOOL of antitrust theory, whose ideas left a broad mark on this area of law over the next decade and a half. In 1981, Posner was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and in 1993 he became its chief judge. In addition to issuing more than
Richard A. Posner.
double the national average of judicial opinions annually, Posner has continued to publish many articles and books that range across legal, social, and intellectual topics.
Posner's ascent began immediately after his graduation from Harvard Law School in 1962. After he graduated first in his class, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice WILLIAM J. BRENNAN JR., who reportedly regarded him as one of the few geniuses he had ever known. A career as a government attorney followed, with stints on the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC); in the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, working for solicitor general THURGOOD MARSHALL; and in President LYNDON JOHNSON's administration. During this time, Posner also served on a highly visible AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION commission that evaluated the FTC, which established him as a strong supporter of free-market capitalism and a critic of federal regulation.
In 1968, Posner left government service for academia. He taught at Stanford Law School for a year before leaving for the University of Chicago, where he would soon make his mark as a leading legal theorist. Economics served as the foundation for his approach; like adherents of the nineteenth-century Utilitarian movement in ENGLISH LAW, Posner believed firmly in the values of the free market and individual initiative. Many legal problems, he argued, were...