For an essay on legal history as diplomatic history for the 3rd edition of Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations
, I close with some tips about how a non-legal historian might venture into legal history. Here's my list. What am I missing?
Building legal history into your diplomatic history research may be important or essential. It can also be fraught with peril. Historians without legal training can make mistakes when unaware of the way different areas of law interconnect, or the way jurisdictional or procedural rules affect a case. But even complex areas of law can be mastered sufficiently.
Here are some guidelines to help you bring law into your project without making mistakes:
- Audit a law school class in your subject area. Do all the reading and participate in class discussion.
- To develop an overview of an area of law, find a well-regarded treatise.
- Ask a legal historians to be on your dissertation committee.
- Attend meetings of the American Society for Legal History.
- Present your work in law settings, including at ASLH and Law and Society Association meetings. Find opportunities for legal scholars to read your work and comment on it.
- Attend legal history workshops and programs in your area. Some law schools have legal history workshop series. They will be delighted to have you.
- Take advantage of legal history programs for graduate students and others hosted by ASLH and others.
- Read the Legal History Blog, where new scholarship is discussed and opportunities are often announced.
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