Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Bruce MacDougall]

Published In

University of British Columbia Law Review

Document Type


Publication Date



Legal Scholarship


There are certain areas of law where it assists a scholar (and perhaps to an extent a lawyer) to have an overtly and directly personal stake in the legal discussion or debate in which he or she engages. When engaging in such a discussion in this personal way, the participant uses a "direct" voice. To be distinguished from this type of participant is a person who, while interested intellectually or politically, does not have the same personal stake in the outcome of the discussion or debate. This person has an "indirect" voice; in fact, in most legal discussions, most participants have indirect voices. Legal discourse is historically characterized by this detached perspective. The indirect voice is the ordinary role for both the lawyer and the scholar in legal debates and discussions. In this essay, the author reflects on the advantages and disadvantages of the direct voice. He explores some of the unrealistic assumptions associated with the direct voice and the consequent limitations on the voice. In addition, he considers how the role and even the need for a direct voice changes as the discussions in which it participates conclude or the context in which the discussions occur alter.

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