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A special relationship? American influences on English legal education, c. 1870–1965

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2011
JournalInternational Journal of the Legal Profession
Journal number1-2
Volume18
Number of pages51
Pages7-57
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper describes and analyses the influence of American legal education on English legal scholars, and the vitality or otherwise of the Anglo-American legal community circa 1870–1965. Part one describes the Anglo-American legal community, its leading lights and its leading ideas, and the transatlantic effort to create and establish modern law schools and legal science during c. 1870–1914. Part two examines the divergences that characterised the relationship between American and English legal education and thought, c. 1914–1965 divergences that were so great that some commentators have concluded that the Anglo-American legal community was in terminal decline by 1930. Part three problematizes the supposed decline of the Anglo-American legal community through a consideration of the continuities and convergences that also pervade American and English legal education and thought, c. 1914–1965. During this period, significant transatlantic networks of legal scholars, aided by scholars in other countries and continents, subjected the classical legal orthodoxy to an unprecedented onslaught, and in the process constituted new legal subjects, new areas of expertise, and broadened legal education and scholarship; while other such networks counterattacked, defended and restated the legal orthodoxy. Part four draws on an indicative survey of English legal scholars who studied in the US during c. 1870–1965 to reflect on the mechanisms by which England's would-be jurists studied and taught in America, and the significant, complex and elusive influence of America. In problematizing the influence of the US on England, the analysis of this material is augmented by data derived from interviews with leading English law teachers and scholars undertaken from the 1980's to the present. The final section of the paper (Part five) sketches some conclusions about the influence of American legal education and thought on English legal education and scholarship, and its larger significance. By melding archival and secondary sources with oral history, and bringing to bear both a macro and micro historical approach to the influence of US law schools and jurists on their British counterparts, and the important role of transatlantic networks of legal scholars, it is hoped that the essay will contribute to an understanding of the specifics of American influence and also to the intellectual history of modern legal education.