legalism,n.1. Formalism carried almost to the point of meaninglessness; an inclination to

exalt the importance of law or formulated rules in any area of action.

“What is legalism? It is the ethical attitude that holds moral conduct to be a matter of rule


following, and moral relationships to consist of duties and rights determined by rules.” Judith N. Shklar, Legalism: Law, Morals, and Political Trials 1 (1964).

“If … the law and the lawyer are to make a socially valuable contribution to the operation of the social security system, there must be abandoned old-established habits of thought as to the nature of law and the whole gamut of practices summed up in the layman’s word of deadly insult, ‘legalism’ — his word for rigid attachment to legal precedent, the substitution of legal rule for policy, the fettering of discretion, the adversary style, the taking of technical points, formality.” Leslie Scarman, English Law — The New Dimension 43 (1974).

2. A mode of expression characteristic of lawyers; a jargonistic phrase characteristic of lawyers, such as “pursuant to.”

[Blacks Law 8th]