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Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review

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When I was a first-year law student in 1951, Professor Lon Fuller shocked his Contracts class by announcing that all Restatements of the Law should be put in a pile and burned. The shock was on three levels. World War II and the Nazi book burnings were only five years behind us. Fuller was an extremely gentle and soft-spoken man. And we were first-year students, believing in, and anxiously seeking, "the rule" that would resolve each legal issue that we confronted.

Fuller's point, of course, was that a restatement of what the rule was yesterday tended to blunt the lawyer's real concerns about legal rules. In counseling clients we strive to predict what the rule will be tomorrow, and the answer to that question is inseparable from the lawyer's ultimate inquiry of what the rule ought to be. In particular, it is the ought that tends to get overlooked in the backward-looking exercise of restating the law.