It's weird because when I read about legal academics (that is, people working in legal academia), I find myself simultaneously envious, and uninterested.
I'm envious in that they're doing, on one level, what I wanted to do for so long, and what I'd probably still be doing if a few things in my life had gone differently (and the academic job market wasn't so terrible) - and, honestly, what part of me thinks I should still want to do. It's hard to get out of the habit of measuring according to the academy's yardsticks.
But I also have no interest in doing what they're doing.
I think I will always have some fascination with academia as a profession; I have an awful lot of friends who are still academics, and I spent too much time in higher education (as student and prof) to walk away from it entirely. I also think that on some level I keep hoping I can reconcile my past and present, that I can make some kind of concrete use of all those academic years, that I can draw on the well of knowledge I spent so many years accumulating to water my current professional path (I know, these metaphors are labored). Basically, I want those years to COUNT. And the easiest way for them to count would be to figure out some way back into an academic life - particularly working in legal academia (I see no way, nor do I want, to work my way back to being a practicing medievalist. Whatever lingering regrets I deal with, that ship has sailed).
But you know what? I have almost no academic interest in law what. so. ever.
Yes, when I was a medievalist, I made heavy use of legal sources in my research. But that's different - I wasn't interested in the law, I was interested in the culture and society of the day, and legal sources were a convenient means of accessing that culture and society. I may have said this before, but my driving question as a historian, always, was: What would it have been like to live back then? And since class and gender are two of the biggest things shaping what it's like for me to live right now, those were things I wanted to know about in the past. So the law, to the extent I learned about it, was purely a tool. (In fact, my understanding of medieval law as an overarching subject was fairly pathetic and late-acquired - you can figure out a lot of ways to use legal records without actually knowing very much about the law).
In contrast, when it comes to studying law, my driving question has been different (to the extent I even have one). It's closer to: What effect does this have on people right now? What does this mean for Party X? And now that I'm out of school - not really in practice, but at least learning more about how the law works in certain corners of the real world - I find that I very much enjoy figuring out how the law applies to a particular given set of facts. Plop appellate briefs in front of me, I am happy to learn about the most obscure things you could imagine to figure out which party ends up in where.
For instance (and this isn't at all obscure, it's just the easiest example that comes to mind), I have had to learn quite a bit about prosecutorial misconduct (short explanation: many many many criminal defendants argue on appeal that the prosecutor made all kinds of dreadfully! improper! and prejudicial! arguments in their closing statement, which require reversal. And sometimes prosecutors actually do this. Pro tip: if you are prosecuting a case in the week or so after 9/11, you should not draw analogies between the defendant and Saddam Hussein. Also, in my state, at least, you can't spend the closing argument talking about how the defendant (or their counsel/witnesses) "lied." You can probably say they weren't truthful, you can point out that every other witnesses' testimony contradicted what the defendant said, but you can't call them a liar). And I find it quite interesting to figure out whether a particular kind of prosecutorial statement in a given case counts as misconduct sufficient for reversal. (For the record: it almost never does. But you know, it could happen).
But I don't have any particular desire to research prosecutorial misconduct.
I can still generate research questions when necessary. In theory, me-the-historian thinks it could be quite interesting to look at changing rules re: prosecutorial misconduct over the decades (can you say things now you used not to be able to say, or vice versa? why? this could be especially fascinating around race/gender). Or it might be kind of interesting to compare state law about this and see what regional differences exist (if any). (I have no idea if there are any regional differences or if they would in fact be of any interest at all. I'm just talking out my ass here.) Speaking more legally, I can imagine a law review article analyzing a particular kind of doctrine about prosecutorial misconduct and arguing why that legal doctrine is completely wrong (omg, prosecutors should totally be able to compare their defendants to Saddam Hussein!0!0!011!! free speech prosecutorial discretion yada yada!* or, omg, prosecutors get to say absolutely all kinds of terrible things about defendants and it's completely unfair!!! here's what they should do instead!!!).
But I don't especially want to do any of these things. (Which is good, because I'm not going to build a legal academic career talking about prosecutorial misconduct. It's just the bad example I came up with off the top of my head.) And, honestly, I am not interested in academic study of almost any legal stuff.
There are, maybe, two exceptions. And if it were my job to come up with academic interests about the law, I'd probably find them. But I'm not interested enough to come home at the end of a day filled with research and writing about the law and spend any time on these subjects, rather than exercising, or knitting, or vegging out in front of the TV.
[This is sort of a long drawn-out post justifying things I don't need to justify. No one is telling me, You know, you really should write legal scholarship! (Seriously - no one.) I suppose it's motivated by the kind of academic hangover alluded to above, where you feel guilty that you don't care about all the things you used to have a professional interest in caring desperately about.]
*Those are terrible arguments for being able to compare your defendant to Saddam Hussein. Just so you know.