Friday, December 8, 2006

Fisher on Friedman: The Historian in the Cellar

"Get out of the light, Lawrence Friedman has told legions of legal historians, and go down to the cellar. Upstairs you'll find only the history of appellate law....But the law of society—the law as it’s lived—is not the law made by common law judges, or even elected lawmakers, who leave their tracks above ground. It is instead the shadow of that law, cast across the streets and shops and tenements of town. The stuff of the law, especially criminal law, concerns those dredged up from the bottom of society. And they leave their tracks in the cellar."

"So down he went."

And so begins George Fisher's marvelous essay, The Historian in the Cellar, on Lawrence Friedman and his work, available on-line in the current issue of the Stanford Law Review.