Jurist in Context: William Twining in Conversation with David Sugarman

AuthorWilliam Twining,David Sugarman
Date01 June 2020
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/jols.12229
Published date01 June 2020
JOURNAL OF LAW AND SOCIETY
VOLUME 47, NUMBER 2, JUNE 2020
ISSN: 0263-323X, pp. 195–220
Jurist in Context: William Twining in Conversation with
David Sugarman
William Twiningand Davi d Sugarman∗∗
This discussion derives from extended conversations between William
Twining and David Sugarman in which William talks about his latest
book, Jurist in Context: A Memoir (JIC).JICrecounts the development
of William’s thoughts and writings, addressing topics central to his
life and research. The dialogue conveys and extends the arguments
on a selection of the topics addressed in the book, engaging with
issues of particular interest to readers of this journal. Here, William
adds a more personal commentary to his formal publications. The
conversation facilitates reflection on issues such as law teaching and
legal scholarship; the meaning, use, and limitations of ‘law in context’;
and the role and character of jurisprudence. It also offers a fascinating
window on the development of, and the struggles surrounding, legal
education and academic legal thought over the second half of the
twentieth century and the early part of the twenty-first.
INTRODUCTION
William Twining is one of the most influential figures in academic law
and legal education. His trailblazing contribution to the broadening of legal
education and scholarship has been pivotal. He is an activist reformer
University College London, Postal address: 10 Mill Lane, Iffley, OX4 4EJ,
England
wtwining@gmail.com
∗∗ Lancaster University Law School, Lancaster, LA1 4YN, England
d.sugarman@lancaster.ac.uk
*I wish to thank the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of London, for hosting our
initial conversation of 21 May 2019, particularly Professor Carl Stychin (Director), who
chaired the occasion, and Belinda Crothers, who assisted with the organization; Cambridge
University Press, for supporting the event; the Journal of Law and Society for its generous
support; and, above all, DavidSugarman for organizing it and patiently editing the result.
**I am indebted to Susan Bartie, for her helpful comments, and to Léonie Sugarman, who
made valuable points about the way in whichthis ar ticle wasexpressed.
195
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution
and reproduction in any medium, providedthe original work is properly cited.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Law and Society published by John Wiley& Sons Ltd on behalf of Cardiff University(CU).
and an international leader in fields as diverse as jurisprudence, evidence,
globalization, and legal education.
This discussion arises out of lengthy recorded conversations in which
William talks about his latest book, Jurist in Context: A Memoir (hereinafter
JIC).1It recounts the development of his thoughts and writings in the context
of Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, addressing topics that
have been central to his life and research. The book advances a conception
of Jurisprudence that contributes to the academic discipline of Law in several
ways, and it provides a vivid and often amusing context for all of William’s
writings.2Addressed to academic lawyers and non-specialists alike, William’s
story demonstrates the importance of the discipline of Law and its future
development and potential. JIC has a distinct identity, covering a wide range
of topics unified by a particular tone that is at once valedictory, self-critical,
and personal. It has the character of its author: humane, generous, and rational;
ambitious in aim though modest in tone; and acerbically direct in its diagnosis
of what is wrong with legal education and what needs to be put right.
In this dialogue, we focus on only a selection of the topics addressed in
JIC, aiming to convey the flavour of William’s latest thinking, and to extend
its arguments.3We concentrate on topics that we hope will be of particular
interest to readers of this journal.4The discussion illuminates a range of issues
including the significance of Africa, colonialism, and decolonization; how
William felt betrayed by Salmond on the Law of Torts; how his periods in
Africa, Belfast during the Troubles, Warwick, and the United States shaped
his thinking; and his conception of Law as an academic discipline and the
role of theorizing within it, responding to those who regard his own approach
1 W. Twining, Jurist in Context: A Memoir (2019). All references are to JIC unless
otherwise indicated.
2 For a representative conspectus of William’s most recent thinking, both JIC and W.
Twining, General Jurisprudence (2009) (hereafter GJP) should be read together. See
n. 10.
3 This essay forms part of a series of interviews that I conducted with leading legal and
socio-legal scholars. Some interviews have been incorporated into my publications: D.
Sugarman, ‘Hart Interviewed: H. L. A. Hart in Conversation with David Sugarman’
(2005) 32 J. of Law and Society 267; D. Sugarman, ‘In His Own Voice: H. L.
A. Hart in Conversation with David Sugarman’ (2018), at <http://blog.oup.com/
2012/12/h-l-a- hart-in-conversation-with- david-sugarman/>; D. Sugarman, ‘Beyond
Ignorance and Complacency: Robert Stevens’ Journey Through Lawyers and the
Courts’ (2009) 16 International J. of the Legal Profession 7; D. Sugarman, ‘A
Special Relationship? American Influences on English Legal Education, c. 1870–
1965’ (2011) 18 International J. of the Legal Profession 7; D. Sugarman, ‘Brian
Simpson’s Approach to Legal Scholarship and the Significance of Reflections on the
Concept of Law’ (2012) 3 Transnational Legal Theory 112; D. Sugarman, ‘Robert
W. Gordon in Conversation with David Sugarman’ (2018) 1 The Docket (Law and
History Review)at<https://Lawandhistoryreview.Org/Article/Robert-W-Gordon-In-
Conversation-With-David-Sugarman/>.
4 Thus, Warwick, lawin context, and legal R/realism constitute a large proportion of this
interview relative to JIC.
196
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Law and Society published by John Wiley& Sons Ltd on behalf of Cardiff University (CU).

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