Reflections on the Nexus of Procedure and History: The Example of Modern American Arbitration

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There is surely no more appropriate context in which to discuss interdisciplinary approaches to civil procedure than in a festschrift honoring Stephen Burbank. In a diverse and expansive set of writings spanning several decades, Burbank has drawn on a wide range of disciplines and methods in approaching key questions of procedure. Masterful at delivering rigorous and precise legal analysis, he has also acquired deep knowledge and sophistication in a range of allied fields, including history and political science. This has enabled him to utilize various qualitative and quantitative methods in pursuit of the deeper social meaning and purposes of the law. As he has insisted, “the technical reasoning required to be a master of doctrine is a necessary condition for . . . good scholarship about procedure,” but “it is not a sufficient condition.”For those who “seek to understand law’s significance,” it is vital to gain “perspectives in addition to the internal logic of technical reasoning”2—and these can be supplied only by turning to disciplines beyond the law, “including history, empiricism, and . . . political science.”3

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