American Law in a Global Context: The Basics

American Law in a Global Context: The Basics

American Law in a Global Context: The Basics

American Law in a Global Context: The Basics


Whatever your background, if you seek an understanding of the legal system of the United States, this is the book for you.

American Law in a Global Contextis an elegant and erudite introduction to the American legal system from a global perspective. It covers the law and lawyering tools taught in the first year of law school, explaining the underlying concepts and techniques of the common law used in U. S. legal practice. The ideas central to the development and practice of American law, as well as constitutional law, contracts, property, criminal law, and courtroom procedure, are all presented in their historical and intellectual contexts, accessible to the novice but with insight that will inform the expert. Actual cases illuminate each major subject, engaging readers in the legal process and the arguments between real people that make American law an ever-evolving system.

George P. Fletcher and Steve Sheppard's exciting approach contrasts the American legal system with other legal systems, especially those of continental Europe. This comparison illuminates the core concepts of US law, making them easily understandable to readers from other systems, and offering a unique perspective on American law as part of global network of laws. Designed to help the foreign student grasp the basic ideas of pedagogy, legal institutions, and substantive law in the US, appendices include an introduction to the common law method, instruction on how to read a case, and the interpretation of statutes.

Based on the course for lawyers from across the globe studying American law at Columbia University, this cutting edge volume makes the basics of American legal education accessible to students and the public worldwide. A must-own reference source for LLM students, undergraduates, and students of US law in other countries.


The study of law is one of the great intellectual adventures of our time. True, there are many who mire it in the rote, the mundane, and the simple-minded. Yet for those who look past the shallows, the depths of law offer excitement and wisdom. Those who learn these nuances gain a particular authority in modern culture. They become effective citizens in the modern state.

This contrast between simplicity and intellectual adventure is especially clear in the legal education of the United States. Those who seek no more than a quick entrance to a profession equate the whole of American law to an inventory of rules. True, a lawyer must know enough rules to answer basic questions asked by clients and examiners. On the other hand, those who seek to know the law fully must probe the ideas from which the rules gain their contours and authority. Knowing the law of the United States requires not only mastery of the detailed doctrines derived from cases, legislation, and scholarship but also a feeling of ease in negotiating the broad planes and narrow corners of the law.

One early tradition of legal thought—evident in the writings of John Adams, James Kent, Joseph Story, and other teachers of the nineteenth century—required a solid commitment to comparative analysis of legal doctrines, to explore every doctrine in the light of its own history and . . .

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