University of Denver

A Look Back at Roscoe Pound's Practical Approach to Judicial Reform

IAALS Intern

Judge Kevin Burke, Minnesota District Court Judge and member of the IAALS Board of Advisors, has written about the ideas and lessons of Roscoe Pound, former Dean of Harvard Law School from 1916-1936, and what the legal community today can learn from his legacy. Though often cited for his scholarly legal work and impact on academia, Pound also championed change in the judicial system, and his suggestions and assertions still have relevance today.

For example, Pound discussed a major misperception on the part of the public—the idea that the administration of justice comes easy to those in charge and that judges sit more as referees than decision-makers on questions of law. Judge Burke argues that members of the legal community today need to fight back against the public perception that anyone can be a judge, and instead emphasize the importance of judicial education and expertise.

Judge Burke urges law students to learn from Pound's commentary on the administration of justice, implement his lessons in their professional lives, and advocate for change and improvement in creating a quality judicial system.

Katherine Kirk is a third year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to