david clark on comparative law
American comparatists are unfamiliar with thinking about Roman, civil, and canon law influence on colonial British American laws and legal institutions or about American colonial lawyers using Roman and civil law examples in their legal argument or reform ef- forts in a manner that today we would consider practical comparative law. This Article explores whether American comparative law really began prior to 1776 with early European settlers. The aim here is to connect comparative law with its sister discipline, legal history, as far back as the evidence supports and to suggest promising avenues for further research. First, I consider the use of comparative law in England through the eighteenth century. Across the Atlantic, I then divide the analysis between intellectual legal history and social legal history. For the former,I consider the nature of legal education, availability of law books, and influential law-trained individuals. Because the social and physical environment in America was so different from that in England, I examine the importance of social factors on the development of law, especially on lawyers and courts. In addition, I speculate on the particular relevance for law of the religious and cultural diversity that existed in the thirteen colonies. Finally, I select John Adams as an exemplary legal comparativist in the pre-revolutionary period and describe his law practice and early political writings.
Filed under: law, Scholarship and insights, United States | Leave a Comment