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Law and History


Stanford Law is open to new ideas. Combining law with the study of Ancient Greece is admittedly unusual, but every professor was receptive and supportive. And they did it all while preparing me to practice law. — Kyle Lakin, JD/PhD in Law and Ancient History, '08

Legal history is the study of how law changes over time in response to socio–economic, cultural, and political forces, and how society in turn responds to changes in the law. Although primarily the territory of scholars, work done at the intersection of these two disciplines can have a profound impact on legal practice. The list of topics open for study across geographic areas and time periods is virtually endless, including crime and the criminal justice system; empire and state–building; legal practice and ethics; immigration and citizenship; executive powers during wartime; gender and the family; and the role of the law in the development of modern market culture and economic institutions.

Stanford offers the benefits of a law school and history department that are both among the most highly ranked in the country. The two schools' close proximity to each other facilitates easy and meaningful interaction and enables joint degree students to pursue many legal history programs outside their formal course work, including a legal history workshop and reading group.

Most students who earn a JD/MA in law and history go on to pursue a JD/PhD, which prepares them for academic careers in legal history—either in a law school or in a history department.