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Lawyering: A History

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Limited Enrollment - 3rd Year Priority
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Course Description

This course will survey the history of lawyering from ancient times to the present day. Students will be invited to meet Cicero and the Roman jurists, look inside medieval courtrooms to see English common lawyers and European civilians at work, experience the rhetoric of John Adams and Daniel Webster while considering the daunting challenges faced by the emerging bar in early America, and assess the economic, industrial and organizational conditions that contributed to the cultural ascendancy of lawyers in the twentieth century United States.
We will investigate both the historical successes of the legal profession and its failures, its championing of great causes and its complicity in great injustices. We will look at lawyering in its changing social, ethical and technological contexts, examining how lawyers over time and in various national settings have constructed their identities, established their power, viewed their duty, and articulated their collective mission. We will investigate how lawyers have been trained, and how different methods of legal education have shaped them. We will learn about legal lives lived far away and right here in Pittsburgh. We will look at today’s American bar, assessing its recent history as a business dominated by the rise of the billable hour, and at the end of the course we will peer into some of the possible futures awaiting attorneys working in a digital age.