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Download Table of Contents (259 KB)

Download 1. Introduction: Scope of Lectures – Use of Language in Law (1.2 MB)

Download 2. Standards for the Individual’s Acts (3.4 MB)

Download 3. Standards for Official Acts (4.6 MB)

Download 4. Legislation (2.1 MB)

Download 5. Interpretation of Legislation (6.0 MB)

Download 6. The Common Law (1.6 MB)

Download 7. Legal Policies and Policy Making (5.9 MB)

Download Table of Cases (156 KB)

Download Author Index and General Index (760 KB)


Five lectures delivered at the University of Michigan February 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27, 1948 on the Thomas M. Cooley Lectureship, enlarged and revised.

First, it is descriptive of the American legal system as it now exists, not of past law and not of legal systems in general. Second, it portrays the legal system as an operating institution. Third, I have given a large place to the discussion of language in relation to law. Fourth, I have given a considerable amount of space to a discussion of the ways in which statutes are made and interpreted. Fifth, technical ideas and technical terminology have been avoided as far as possible. Sixth, there is need to impart a vast deal of plain information about our legal system and how it operates. Finally, I have coupled with the textual material a variety of problems for discussion. This is in line with the problem method which we use consistently in legal instruction

Publication Date



University of Michigan Law School


Ann Arbor


Legal study, Study aids, Study guides, Legal systems, Statutes, Legal instruction, Language, University of Michigan Law School, Law students, Instruction, Acts, Standards, Legislation, Policies


Common Law | Legal Education | Legal Profession | Legislation


Published under the auspices of the University of Michigan Law School (which, however, assumes no responsibility for the views expressed) with the aid of funds derived from gifts to the University of Michigan by William W. Cook.

Our Legal System and How it Operates