Legal History Highlights
The study of law and history at NYU Law has deep roots. The Legal History Colloquium is the longest-running legal history workshop in the country, and the Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship program, which produces leading entry-level academics, is the oldest legal history fellowship program in the United States. The Law School's legal history program also continues to grow and evolve—NYU is one of the few law schools today to offer non-U.S. legal history.
The core law and history faculty include Professors Daniel Hulsebosch, William Nelson and John Phillip Reid.
Nelson pioneered research into early American county court records as sources of legal and social history. His research interests are legal history in colonial America and legal history in New York. His newest book, Fighting for the City, is a history of New York City's legal department. He is also writing a multivolume history of colonial American law. Nelson teaches Great Books in American Law, Legal Scholarship and Professional Responsibility: History of the Legal Profession.
Reid’s research areas include the history of Anglo-American liberty and the legal history of the North American fur trade. His books cover a wide range of subjects: He has written two judicial biographies of 19th-century state judges; two books on the tribal law of the Cherokee nation, and nine books dealing with various legal and constitutional aspects of the American Revolution. Reid teaches American Legal History, the Legal History Colloquium and Readings in American Legal History.
Hulsebosch specializes in imperial legal history. His scholarship ranges from early modern England to the 19th-century United States. Throughout his work, he explores the relationships between migration, territorial expansion and the development of legal institutions and doctrines. His 2005 book, Constituting Empire: New York and the Transformation of Constitutionalism in the Atlantic World, 1664-1830, examines the intersection of constitutionalism and imperial expansion in the British Empire and early United States by focusing on New York between 1664 and 1830. He is currently researching the development of American legal culture in the two generations after the American Revolution. He teaches the Legal History Colloquium, Property, Legal History of England and the British Empire and Federal Indian Law.
Several other faculty have a strong and abiding interest in history, particularly in constitutional tradition. Professors Barry Friedman, David Golove, Helen Hershkoff, Roderick Hills Jr., Deborah Malamud and Richard Pildes draw on a historical perspective to deepen students’ understanding of the evolution of the law. And law students can take up to 10 credits from NYU’s history department and study with professors such as Lauren Benton and Jane Burbank, who specialize in legal history. Students may pursue a joint J.D./Ph.D., conditional on being admitted to each program independently.
At the heart of the Legal History program is the Legal History Colloquium. Taught by Hulsebosch, Nelson and Reid, its mission is unique—the training of young scholars rather than the testing of ideas of senior professors. The core of the Legal History Colloquium consists of the Samuel I. Golieb Fellows, a group of two or three graduate students chosen each year from schools around the United States who attend the Legal History Colloquium each week and present their own work in the colloquium. Other participants have included J.D. students and graduate students at NYU, Fulbright Scholars from Europe, and faculty from the Law School and other law schools in the metropolitan region.
The Program in the History and Theory of International Law encourages scholarship and teaching on topics in the history and theory of international law that are vital to deepening an understanding of the field. The program holds periodic conferences and workshops, sponsors a refereed working paper series, hosts visiting fellows (including faculty from other disciplines, and post-docs), supports research and publications, provides a center bringing together people interested in these fields and each year offers a set of courses in these areas at the Law School. The program is directed by Professor Benedict Kingsbury in cooperation with Hauser Global Law Professor Martti Koskenniemi.
The Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History was established in 1981 to provide young legal historians with research support and a forum to present their work. Fellows attend the Legal History Colloquium each week during the academic year and present their own work in the colloquium at least once. Fellows are also encouraged to participate in the intellectual life of the Law School. The stipend is currently $20,000, with the possibility of an additional housing stipend for Fellows who live in New York City. The program committee selects two or three Golieb Fellows each year. Dozens of Golieb alumni are members of law school faculties and history departments across the country.