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Legal History

Full-time Faculty

Martin Flaherty Robert Kaczorowski  James Kainen 
Andrew Kent Thomas H. Lee Rachel Vorspan

Legal history serves important functions in law and in legal education. Lawyers often employ history in fashioning arguments before the courts. Judges often invoke history in explaining the legal results they reach in specific cases. The important roles legal history plays in the legal process is one reason law schools offer courses in the subject. Legal history courses enable students to investigate the origins and evolution of legal doctrines, to explore the intent or understanding behind particular statutes and constitutional provisions, and to reassess landmark decisions. More importantly, legal history offers students an interdisciplinary perspective on law with which they can better understand specific fields of law and legal doctrines, different approaches to legal reasoning, and law as a profession. This perspective will enable students to use more effectively the legal knowledge and legal skills they acquire in law school.

The Law School offers two courses that survey the history of Anglo-American law. English Legal History examines the evolution of English civil, criminal, and constitutional law from the medieval period to the present, emphasizing the period from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. American Legal History Survey examines private and constitutional law in the United States from the nation's Founding in the eighteenth century to the present. In addition, other courses focus on selected topics in the history of American legal thought history.

Upper Level Survey & Introductory Courses

Upper Level Courses in Specialized Topics

Related Subject Areas