Realist School of Jurisprudence


In our country, many incidents took place hence in consequence of which various cases are instituted in the courts. And for maintaining the peace and deciding the cases, the courts provide assistance by finalizing the cases and determining the result of the cases. Various cases contain different decisions and dispense different judgments laid by the different judges, the variations in judgements are because such judgments are pronounced by different judges. Therefore we can say that judgement is delivered which is different from each other as theses are come up with the different personalities as all personalities are not similar that’s why it is different and many more factors are present behind the decision. This above elaboration is in the context of the realist school of jurisprudence and in this article, I would be discussing the Realist school of jurisprudence.


There is a general concept that sometimes people creates their preference list and after that desires to adapt that only. And this somehow very similar and associated with the realist school of jurisprudence. The realist school believes that while delivering the judicial or any legal decisions pronounced by the courts, there are many human factors that endures or we can say that many contributing factors are there to play a very crucial role in the legal decisions, which affects the lawyers or judges.

The school of Realist jurisprudence is named as a realist because this school believes the law in real action. It pays attention on the studies of law in actions.


The realist school of jurisprudence was developed in America and Europe. It originated around 1890’a when there was very much focusing area was on the law model or the legal system of USA as because many revolutionaries judges were appointed and various cases were being decided and among which the realist school of jurisprudence brought up with two utmost questions that what was the role of judges in establishing the law and the subsequent was about the value of the doctrine of precedent, here the doctrine of precedent refers to the principle which states that the judgement or decision laid by the higher courts shall be followed or applied by the lower courts. In India also, the doctrine of precedent is followed and applied by the courts or judiciary as under article 141 of the constitution.


The main area of the Analytical school of jurisprudence was on the state, sociological school of jurisprudence focused on the society, and likewise, the main focusing area of the realist school jurisprudence was on the judgement pronounced by the judges. Moreover, for the better understanding and for more clarity, I have categorized the central point of the aim or objective of this school, and therefore the two main focusing areas of the school are as follows-

  • The primary objective of this school of jurisprudence is regarded with what and how the judges deliver their judgment, what kinds of the judgment or decision they pronounce and how they interpret the law while expressing the judgment.
  • The secondary objective of this school is to focus on determining the human factors or any contributing factors of the judgment. This school aimed at the various kinds of human factors or contributing factors due to which judges and lawyers are affected and pronounced judgement.

Moreover, also focuses on the experience and the feeling of justice. It also talked about the feeling among the parties in respect of justice and here the party which refers to the plaintiff and defendant after the decision of the case or case decided.


The utmost contribution for the Realist school of jurisprudence was been given by the jurist John Gray, Oliver Windel Holmes, Jerome Frank, and Llewellyn. Among these jurists, John Gray and Oliver Wendel Holmes were the father of this school of jurisprudence. Now, let’s just understand and look out in brief about the concept in terms of law according to the above jurist.

  1. John Gray- In the apprehension of law, john Gray provided all the focus on the judges. As per this jurist, whenever judges decide any cases or pronounce any judgments then there are many factors of different kinds present over there which influence judges and affects the decisions. John Gray considered some examples of such factors that are political theory, economic theory and personal quality which impacts their decisions.
  2. Oliver Windel Holmes- He was the jurist as well as the judge of the Supreme Court and divided many cases in his long tenure of work. His concept about the law had impacted fundamentally to the American law, such concept was that generally, people understood law for knowing what was right and what was wrong, Holmes introduced the term ‘bad men’ and according to Holmes, those people who entered or came into the witness box were the bad men, he has not consisted anything with the normal definition of the law. He only believed on the decision of the court, judgement pronounced by the judges or any court analysis. In the context of law, Holmes believed that only logic was not considered or meant in law but also experience occupied a very crucial role in the law. Therefore, there are many factors which judges reviewed and evaluated before finalizing the decision.
  3. Jerome Frank- Generally at that time, any judges used to apply the legal rules of the matter facts and then uses to reach the legal decision but if the matter facts were not correct then the taken legal decision also shall be incorrect, this is the belief of Jerome Frank who was the next propounder of this school. In his writing, ‘ law and Modern Mind’ he stated that different interpretations provides different outcomes and considered that certainty of law is a legal myth.
  4. Llewellyn- In the 1990s when our country was running with liberalisation, and before such phase, we had changed many policies and this is the concept or belief consisted of the jurist Llewellyn. As per his concept, the law is similar to an institution and the mode to establish or incorporate any changes in the society as required by the society or according to the need of it.

In our current scenario of life, we often heard many circumstances wherein the application of the realist school of jurisprudence is present. Like personal interviews for admission in colleges or any job interviews, etc are conducted for detecting the ideology, traits, etc of any person, also case study approach which is done that contains many cases of various judges are studied for understanding the thinking, ideology, perception, etc of such judge so as to use it in the present work. Therefore, the notion and theory of this Realist school of jurisprudence assists and provide the idea to the present series of development.

Also Read: Law, Morality and Justice In Jurisprudence

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