chapter  26
26Legal Discourse
ByJohn M. Conley
Pages 13

Since its beginnings in the 1970s, the study of legal discourse has evolved into a sprawling field, with contributions from sociolinguists, conversation analysts, rhetoricians, discourse analysts of multiple persuasions, and lawyers with varying degrees of linguistic training. Little of this work has been done by linguistic anthropologists, though. To illustrate the point, I have just finished co-editing a book about legal discourse called Lay-Legal Communication: Textual Travels in the Law (Heffer, Rock, and Conley 2013). Of 21 contributors, only three (including myself and my co-author, Jean Cadigan) are anthropologists; the rest are from such fields as linguistics, pragmatics, communication, and criminal justice studies. There have always been exceptions to this generalization, and there is evidence that things are changing in a significant way. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that linguistic anthropology is a relative latecomer to the legal arena.