The Origins of “Passing the Bar”

One question that I am asked from time to time has to do with the origins of the expression “passing the bar”. A common assumption is that there is some connection with admission to the legal profession and the ancient relationship between lawyers and … Continue reading

Do-It-Yourself Lawyering in 1845

Well, one of my 2014 resolutions is to find a better balance between writing blogs (which I’ve sorely neglected of late) and my other online and published work. As such, I’ve decided to embrace inspiration as it comes. The other … Continue reading

What’s In A Name? That [Who] We Call Rose….

In the U.S., convention regarding name-changes after marriage has changed dramatically in recent decades–but not in the way you might think: a thirty-five year long longitudinal study showed that the 1990s was the high-water mark with respect to women preserving their maiden … Continue reading

‘A’ is for Adultery

Adultery! Everyone knows what it means–and rarely do we think of adultery having to do much with law, except possibly in divorce actions. To some, it probably conjures up Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, with its themes of sin, … Continue reading

Maintenance, Champerty and Embracery, or Fun With the Law

Related to my last blog entry on barratry and my ongoing fascination with obsolete and esoteric legal concepts, my current discussion topics are the concepts of champerty, maintenance, and the alluringly-titled concept of embracery. Barratry, as you may remember, has to do … Continue reading

What is Barratry? A far from frivolous question!

As part of my upcoming series of blog entries devoted to legal concepts that are esoteric or have fallen into dissuse, my present topic is “barratry”, a common law term that is probably known to few but involves a concept … Continue reading

The “Radium Girls”, Deodands, and the Rise of Worker’s Compensation in the U.S.

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a ‘talk back’ session following a performance of Radium Girls with cast members and several trial lawyers who handle worker’s compensation cases. Put on at the Regent Theatre in Arlington … Continue reading

NY Man Sues Ex-Fiancée After She Breaks Off Engagement

Some of my readers will remember that some time ago I wrote about the law and custom regarding broken engagements, including blog entries on the issue of the return of engagement rings, and ‘breach of promise to marry’  lawsuits. In an interesting twist, a … Continue reading

A Long Time Coming…But Back in Print!

Hello, gentle readers!  My next blog post will be up in a week or two, but I wanted to mention my latest work. It is a bit surreal to me to mention it, really, since I completed this as a … Continue reading

‘Ripped from Today’s Headlines': The Alford Plea–Pleading Guilty But Protesting Innocence

Last week in class, I wandered off on a slight tangent related to the Alford plea. Coincidentally, the very next day this fascinating bit of contemporary legal history and criminal procedure made its way into the news, prompted by a fairly unlikely … Continue reading

‘Twelve Angry Men’, or The Origins of the Jury System

An earlier blog post talked about ‘straw men’ and compurgation; and to continue in that vein I wanted to say a few words about the origins of the modern jury. The timing for me is quite fortuitous, as I just hosted … Continue reading

Of Christmas Caroling, Extortion, and Mistletoe

What, might you ask, do caroling and extortion have in common? Unless you’re very cynical, the answer probably should be “nothing.” Personally, I love the holidays and believe caroling is a lovely tradition. I still remember the last time I … Continue reading