My two-year sojourn at the University of Cologne (2004-2006) provided an intense occasion for living la vida lex mercatoria. This essay explores key facets of that experience. At the outset, I approach the topic from a traditional scholarly perspective, first by offering a brief overview of theoretical debates about the lex mercatoria, then by arguing the need for more social scientific (and particularly empirical) research in this field. Next my focus shifts to the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot (Vis Moot), and considers the role of legal education in reproducing the lex mercatoria as a living phenomenon. In each of these contexts, I garner and examine available empirical evidence, and suggest ways in which interdisciplinary research might enrich our knowledge of the transnational legal field. Finally, the essay takes up some broader questions that arose during my two years in Cologne, particularly relating to the extreme skepticism with which German colleagues greeted my socio-legal turn. In the spirit of carrying on the discussions that began during those years, I conclude with some comparative reflections on multi-/interdisciplinarity in the legal academy. Thus, as a whole, this essay combines analysis of scholarly debates, investigation of empirical data, and reflection on legal academic culture from an American perspective. To this extent, it exemplifies the best (or worst, depending on one's predilections) eclectic tendencies of some socio-Iegal scholarship.
12 Uniform Law Rev. 733 (2007)