Introduction: Legal Life Writing and Marginalized Subjects and Sources

AuthorDavid Sugarman,Linda Mulcahy
Date01 March 2015
Publication Date01 March 2015
ISSN: 0263-323X, pp. 1±6
Introduction: Legal Life Writing and Marginalized
Subjects and Sources
Linda Mulcahy* and David Sugarman**
`Life writing', from biographies of people to biographies of objects, is an
increasingly popular field of scholarship in which the approaches adopted
range from in-depth scholarly accounts to hagiography.
Despite this, a
review of the literature reveals that the bulk of legal biographies produced
have focused on charting the lives of the elite; most often white, male,
heterosexual judges and barristers. There have been notable exceptions,
including Mary Jane Mossman's The First Women Lawyers, Clay Smith's
The Making of the Black Lawyer, and Patrick Polden's account of early
female barristers,
but these remain in the minority. The implications of this
for the field of socio-legal studies are extensive. Neglect of the lives of those
whose entry to the legal profession was delayed or whose progress was
hindered by virtue of their colour, gender or beliefs facilitates the promul-
gation of conventional views about the experiences and voices that are
rendered authoritative and legitimate in the scholarly community. It also
*Department of Law, London School of Economics, Houghton Street,
London WC2A 2AE, England
** Law School, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YN, England
1 R.G. Parry, `Is legal biography really legal scholarship?' (2010) 30 Legal Studies 208.
2 M.J. Mossman, The First Women Lawyers: A Comparative Study of Gender, Law and
the Legal Professions (2006); J. Clay Smith Jr., The Making of the First Black Lawyer
1844±1944 (1993); P. Polden, `Portia's progress: women at the Bar in England, 1919±
1939' (2005) 12 International J. of the Legal Profession 293. See, also, P. Polden,
`The Lady of Tower Bridge: Sybil Campbell, England's first woman judge' (1999) 8
Women's History Rev. 505; B. Babcock, Woman Lawyer. The Trials of Clara Foltz
(2011); A.F. Logan, `In Search of Equal Citizenship: the campaign for women
magistrates in England and Wales, 1910±1939' (2007) 16 Women's History Rev. 501;
H. MacQueen, `Scotland's first women law graduates: an Edinburgh centenary' in
Miscellany VI (2009) 221, and the work undertaken by the LSE's Legal Biography
Project: .
ß2015 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2015 Cardiff University Law School

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