Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

American Legal History

642A | 2.0 credits


This course deals with the interaction between the legal system and social change in what is now the United States. No prior knowledge of U.S. History is necessary to complete it successfully. Chronologically, the course runs from the colonial period to the present. Main themes include relationships between law and economic development; changing conceptions of individual rights and state authority; and the development of the legal profession. Reading consists primarily of original documents, including not only appellate decisions but status, divorce decrees, labor injunctions, and the like. A primary goal of the course will be to (re-)acquaint students with some of the great documents in the development of our legal system, from The Federalist Papers to the Gettysburg Address to Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights. Class format will be lecture-and-discussion; photographs and other visuals will supplement the lectures and printed materials.