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Legal archaeology is an area of legal scholarship "involving detailed historical reconstruction and analysis of important cases."
While most legal scholars confine their research to published opinions of court cases, legal archaeologists examine the historical and social context in which a court case was decided. These facts may show what social and cultural forces were at work in a particular case. Professors can use legal archaeology to "sensitize students as to how inequality, specifically with regard to race, gender and class affects what occurs throughout the cases they study." A legal archaeologist might also research biographical material on the judges, attorneys, and parties to a court case. Such information might show whether a judge held particular biases in a case, or if one party had superior legal representation that caused the party to prevail in a case.
Notable practitioners of legal archaeology
Notes and references
- Charles L. Knapp, Nathan M. Crystal, and Harry G. Prince, Problems in Contract Law: Cases and Materials: Fifth Edition, pp. 749-50, Aspen Publishers, 2005
- Joan Vogel, Cases in Context: Lake Champlain Wars, Gentrification, and Ploof v. Putnam, 45 St. Louis U. L. J. 791, 792.
- Judith Maute, Response: The Values of Legal Archaeology, 2000 Utah L. Rev. 223.