The Yale Ph.D. in Law

A bunch of law bloggers have commented on Yale’s newly-announced Ph.D. program in law designed for wannabe law professors. Brian Leiter thinks the idea is silly; Jason Mazzone likes it. I suppose the question boils down to why Ph.D.s are currently valued in legal academia. On one hand, some people say that they are valued because they provide rigorous training in a non-law field which enables scholars to generate deep insights about the legal system. From that perspective, the Ph.D. in law is a junior varsity pseudo-degree that makes little sense. On the other hand, some people are skeptical that Ph.D.s in other fields really lead to such great insights. These folks say that Ph.D.s are valued because they show dedication to scholarship and give candidates the time to research and write in considerable depth. From that perspective, a Ph.D. in law is a great opportunity to read up on the canon and produce a string of works which will greatly help candidates when they go on the teaching market. My sense is that opinion is divided in the academy as to which rationale is more persuasive. Time will tell, I suppose, and the future of programs like the Ph.D. in law will rise or fall with the answer.