Law-school deans aren’t known to produce great scholarship. They’re too busy in meetings and writing fundraising letters all day. Most of them once produced scholarship, but it slows to a dribble once they assume a deanship.
The great exception here is Ward Farnsworth, dean of the University of Texas School of Law. He has produced some extraordinary work, including The Legal Analyst (2007), a superb book—the best of its kind—about what it means to think like a lawyer.
Meanwhile, he has been the reporter on the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third of the Law of Torts: Liability for Economic Harm. While taking questions from the floor at the ALI meetings, he was astonishingly effective—a model that all reporters could emulate. He seemed to know every case cited in the monumental work. Farnsworth has also written about chess, about cognitive psychology, and about economic analysis of law.
But what I want to focus on is a trilogy of books you wouldn’t even think might be within his purview: writing and rhetoric. As dean, he has written three books that are destined to become classics:
● Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric (2010).
● Farnsworth’s Classical English Metaphor (2016).
● Farnsworth’s Classical English Style (2020).
They’re all stylishly published by David Godine, the literary publishing house in Boston. They’re bold and they’re innovative, and they’re brimming with examples. In fact, there are more examples than explanatory text. That’s a hallmark of Farnsworth’s approach. It’s quite a feat.
Buy them. Read them. You’ll learn.
Meanwhile, let’s hope that his trilogy soon becomes a tetralogy.