ARTICLE
Friendship & The Law
Ethan J. Leib* 
54 UCLA L. Rev. 631

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Abstract

This Article’s central argument is that the law needs to do a better job of recognizing, protecting, respecting, and promoting friendships. The law gives pride of place to other statuses—family and special professional relationships are obvious ones—but the status of the friend is rarely relevant to legal decisionmaking and public policymaking in a consistent way. After defining the concept of the friend, I offer a normative argument for why the law should promote a public policy of friendship facilitation and for why the law ignores friendships only at its peril. I highlight how the law already finds friendship relevant in certain issue areas without any self-conscious or systematic understanding of it, and I recommend other issue areas where friendship could matter more to legislators, courts, and legal scholars. We are regulating friendships without even recognizing that we are doing so, and friendship commands more attention from legal scholars and legal decisionmakers. I offer a framework to show how the law could exact certain duties from friends and confer certain privileges upon them as well.


* Assistant Professor of Law, University of California—Hastings College of the Law; and Visiting Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School (Fall 2006). J.D., Ph.D., M.A., B.A., Yale University; M.Phil., University of Cambridge.

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