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This work will show that there is a great gulf between the culture of lawmakers and the culture of those who comply. Lawmakers - legislators, administrators, and especially judges - function by producing primary authorities in law. The texts of these authorities are the law itself. Because they were created in the course of deciding actual cases - cases which produced insights to a truth of lasting value, these texts have an authority equal to all the other insights produced down through the ages. The excitement that accompanies such insights tends to blind lawmakers to the chore of compliance. Those whose work in the world is determined by what is permitted and what is forbidden are invisible to those who define that work. Tying cases together remains the obsession of the legal profession, but it is no longer possible, as it was in the eighteenth century, for this tying to occur in the mind of the lawyer. The gulf between then and now has been bridged by a very creative, profit-driven legal literature, which has survived and prevailed by adapting new technology. That bridge is what this work will examine.


Originally published by The American Journal of Legal History in 2000.