Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Best Faculties in Legal History

Last fall, I ran a series of "best faculties" polls in particular specialty areas (see the summary here).  The result weren't nuts, whatever the obvious limitations of Internet polls--though the Condorcet system mutes some of the problems.  Anyway, I thought we might try some more, starting with the area of "Legal History."  Below, I've listed scholars doing work in legal history at 18 law schools.  I've not listed schools with just one scholar in the area (even one prominent scholar, like Tomlins at UC Irvine).  I have tried to identify 18 schools that might end up ranked in "the top ten" in the area of legal history.  The criterion for inclusion of additional schools is NOT that a faculty might rank better than one of the schools listed below.  If I've omitted a school whose faculty might make the top ten, note it below in the comments.  If I've omitted non-emeritus faculty, who teach in the Law School, and who do significant work in legal history, please note that in the comments.  (I am particularly likely to have missed junior faculty.)  Faculty marked with an *, below, are either part-time or hold a primary appointment in another unit, but do regular teaching at the law schools in question.  If I've listed faculty who are emeritus or don't really work in legal history, post that in the comments below.  Do not e-mail me; post in the comments.  ONLY SIGNED COMMENTS WILL BE APPROVED.

Columbia University:  Christina Duffy Burnett, Ariela Dubler, Philip A. Hamburger, Eben Moglen

Georgetown University:  Laura Donohue, Daniel R. Ernest, James C. Oldham, William Michael Treanor

Harvard University:   Christine A. Desan, Charles Donahue, Jr., Annette Gordon-Reed, Morton Horwitz, Michael Klarman, Adriaan Lanni, Kenneth W. Mack, Bruce Mann, Mark Tushnet

New York University:  Barry Friedman, Daniel Hulsebosch, William E. Nelson

Northwestern University:  Stephen Presser, Kristen Stilt

Stanford University:   Michele Landis Dauber, Lawrence Friedman, Amalia D. Kessler, Larry Kramer, Norman W. Spaulding

University of California, Berkeley:  David Lieberman, Laurent Mayali, Harry  Scheiber

University of California, Los Angeles:  Khaled Abou El Fadl, Stuart Banner, Jennifer Mnookin, Clyde Spillenger

University of Chicago:   R.H. Helmholtz, *Dennis Hutchinson, Alison LaCroix, *Gerald N. Rosenberg, Laura Weinrib

University of Illinois:  Daniel W. Hamilton, Richard J. Ross, Bruce P. Smith

University of Iowa:  Thomas P. (T.P.) Gallanis, Herbert Hovenkamp

University of Michigan:  Willian Ian Miller, William J. Novak, *Rebecca J. Scott

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill:   Alfred Brophy, Eric Muller, John V. Orth

University of Pennsylvania:  Sarah Barringer Gordon, Sarena Mayeri

University of Southern California:  Mary L. Dudziak, Ariela J. Gross, Daniel M. Klerman

University of Texas, Austin:  William Forbath, Emily Kadens, Sanford V. Levinson, *Basil S. Markesinis, Lucas A. (L.A.) Powe, Jr., David M. Rabban

University of Virginia:  Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Barry Cushman, Risa L. Goluboff, *Charles McCurdy, G. Edward White

Yale University:  Akhil Amar, Robert W. Gordon, John Langbein, Claire Priest, Reva Siegel, James Q. Whitman, John Witt

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It is Professor Daniel Ernst at Georgetown, not Ernest.

Posted by: Joshua Landau | Nov 3, 2010 4:15:30 PM

Jed Shugerman at Harvard is a junior prof who does quite a bit of work on legal history.

Posted by: Eric Biber | Nov 3, 2010 5:01:45 PM

The political theorist Don Herzog at Michigan Law is not, strictly speaking, a historian but his fabulous books--Happy Slaves and Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders--are beautiful illustrations of how history can be conscripted into the cause of textual interpretation in political theory.

Posted by: John Kang | Nov 3, 2010 5:23:33 PM

Kurt Lash joined the University of Illinois faculty this year.

Posted by: Lawrence Solum | Nov 3, 2010 5:33:02 PM

The University of Connecticut has several prominent historians: R. Kent Newmyer (author of excellent biographies of Justices Story & Marshall), Steven Wilf (recently authored a book called Law's Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America), Carol Weisbrod, as well as some up and coming folks: Bethany Berger and Sachin Pandya.

BL COMMENT: Do you think U Conn might rank in the "top ten" in legal history? That's the question, and I simply don't know. Thanks.

Posted by: Alexandra Lahav | Nov 3, 2010 5:56:19 PM

Steven Bank at UCLA writes quite a lot in tax history.

BL COMMENT: Is writing in tax history the same as being a legal historian? Comments from readers?

Posted by: Larry Garvin | Nov 3, 2010 6:11:42 PM

At the University of Minnesota Law School, we have prominent legal historians Barbara Welke and Susanna Blumenthal, and also Carol Chomsky and Jill Hasday who also work in the area.

BL COMMENT: The question is whether you think Minnesota might rank in the top ten in legal history? I simply don't know.

Posted by: Brian Bix | Nov 3, 2010 6:23:37 PM

I think UConn could be in the top 10, yes. That is why I added it in the comments.

I nearly forgot to add Peter Lindseth to our list of legal historians, he's just written a book as well: Power and Legitimacy: Reconciling Europe and the Nation-State. That makes six legal historians, one (Newmeyer) with probably the best book on John Marshall ever written.

Posted by: Alexandra Lahav | Nov 3, 2010 7:38:08 PM

Minnesota would rank at least as high in legal history as some schools on your list. I would include it.

At Penn there's also Sophia Lee.

Posted by: Mary Dudziak | Nov 3, 2010 8:17:11 PM

George Mason has (at least) Joyce Malcolm, Jeremy Rabkin, Ross Davies and David Bernstein. And yes, while this is not my area of expertise, I think GMU might well rank in the "top 10."

Posted by: Josh Wright | Nov 3, 2010 9:39:30 PM

I should have said it differently: Minn. is at least as likely to end up in the top 10 as some others on your list.

Posted by: Mary Dudziak | Nov 3, 2010 11:04:17 PM

What about non-US law schools? I think some might land up in a top-ten list.

BL COMMENT: No doubt some would, but we're limiting this strictly to US law schools, which the readership of the blog will hopefully be in the best position to evaluate.

Posted by: David Schorr | Nov 4, 2010 5:48:31 AM

Buffalo has "full-time" legal historians Rob Steinfeld, Jim Wooten, Jack Schlegel, and Fred Konefsky. Others who sometimes do historical work include Rebecca French, Mark Bartholomew, Dianne Avery, and myself (Guyora Binder)

Posted by: Guyora Binder | Nov 4, 2010 7:14:55 AM

At Penn it's Serena, not Sarana, Mayeri. I'd also second Mary Dudziak's note that Sophia Lee also does legal history here.

Posted by: Stephanos Bibas | Nov 4, 2010 7:22:35 AM

Boston University has a number of prominent legal historians, including Kris Collins, Anna di Robilant, Pnina Lahav, Gerry Leonard, and David Seipp. It also has others who have done serious work in legal history as part of their scholarship, including Andrew Kull, Gary Lawson, and David Lyons. Accordingly, I think BU could rank in the top 10 on your list.

BL COMMENT: David Lyons is a wonderful philosopher, but he is not a legal historian! Let's keep this real, please! You're obviuosly right about Kull, maybe Lawson, though that again seems to me more of a stretch.

Posted by: Ken Simons | Nov 4, 2010 8:13:43 AM

At the University of Iowa, please add (at a minimum) Lea VanderVelde, Carolyn Jones, and *Linda Kerber.

A full list of the faculty members affiliated with our Program in Law and History is available at

Posted by: Thomas Gallanis | Nov 4, 2010 8:19:44 AM

Martha Jones has a joint appointment between Michigan Law and the Michigan History Department. Her first book was not strictly legal history, but her current projects deal with legal history and she teaches legal history.

Also at Michigan: Madeline Kochen (ancient/rabbinic law/legal history); Bruce Frier (Roman legal history), Nicolas Howson (Chinese legal history).

Posted by: Susan | Nov 4, 2010 8:21:41 AM

Lea Vandervelde at Iowa also does legal history. Her work on Mrs. Dred Scott, including her new book, is important and highly respected.

Also, it depends on what you mean by regularly teach, but if every other year or so counts, Linda Kerber has co-taught courses at Iowa, and she cross lists her courses from time to time.

Posted by: Angela Onwuachi-Willig | Nov 4, 2010 8:42:52 AM

Boston College has quite a few for a small school: Daniel Coquillette, James Rogers, Frank Herrmann, Intisar Rabb, Catherine Wells, and me (Mary Bilder), as well as people such as Ray Madoff and Mark Brodin, whose recent books have historical components.

Posted by: mary bilder | Nov 4, 2010 9:10:22 AM

At Berkeley Law, Kinch Hoekstra does intellectual history and the history of legal and political thought. More generally, Dan Farber has several books on constitutional history (Lincoln's Constitution; Civil Liberties and National Security in American History; A History of the US Constitution).

Posted by: Ken Bamberger | Nov 4, 2010 9:32:43 AM

At Yale, Nicholas Parrillo also does historical work.

Posted by: Karen | Nov 4, 2010 9:35:14 AM

Regarding David Lyons at BU, it is important to be aware that for the last few years he has been doing quite a lot of work on the history of race and the law in the United States. The definition of legal history implicit in the various names posted up and down this page is pretty fluid, but, in the context of that list, it is easy to say that David Lyons has been doing a good bit of legal history for a good while now.

Posted by: Gerry Leonard | Nov 4, 2010 10:23:55 AM

At New York Law School, Ed Purcell, Bill La Piana, Jethro Lieberman, Lloyd Bonfield, Richard Chused and James Simon all have legal history as their primary scholarly interest, and together have produced numerous books on various topics.

Posted by: Joyce Saltalamachia | Nov 4, 2010 12:29:06 PM

Robert Post at Yale has done a lot of wonderful historical work on the Taft Court.

Posted by: Steve Bundy | Nov 4, 2010 8:15:36 PM

Particularly in light of The Shield of Achilles, I'd add Philip Bobbitt to the Columbia list.

Posted by: Jamal Greene | Nov 4, 2010 8:28:20 PM

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