Zen and the Art of Jursiprudence

Lawyer bashing is by no means a remarkable phenomenon. It was not remarkable when Shakespeare wrote, “[t]he first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” and it’s not remarkable today. Paul Campos, however, has written a particularly readable example, blending venerable Western lawyer-bashing and pop psychology with unsystematic invocations of Eastern religion. Jurismania is named after Campos’s theory that the American legal system has a lot in common with a person suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, an addiction to law that does neither the patient nor those around him much good. In Jurismania, Campos criticizes our insistence on regulating and legalizing every aspect of our lives, and our insistence on exclusive rationality. Campos argues, with regular Taoist allusions, that rationality is not and cannot be the exclusive solution to the questions law raises, and that irrational methods are and should be employed. Campos’s intended audience is “the general reader whose experience of American law has made him or her wonder if there might not be something wrong ” with it (pp. vii-viii). Should that audience take Campos’s critique seriously, it will strike close to the heart of law and the legal profession. Thus, although they are not the target audience, lawyers ought to think about Jurismania because it reflects and amplifies a perspective that may be common to many nonlawyers who encounter the legal system.