Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2021

Publication Citation

28 Indiana J. Global Legal Studies 1 (2021)


This article adds to the biographic ''turn" in legal studies. While there is a large body of scholarship examining judges in the United States and the United Kingdom, comparatively little is written on their legal counterparts in the common law world. What can judicial biographies offer for comparative law? Do these studies generate useful information about the movement of law? What can be gained by a better awareness of the lives of those at the top of the colonial legal profession? This article shows that within the common law world, judges, like those in the United States and the United Kingdom, were central figures in the administration of justice and in the colonial socio-political elite. Biographical studies are even more important in understanding the way law moved through the British Empire because the backgrounds of these figures shaped their ability to deal with new social groups and diverse societies, and to create pluralistic solutions to legal problems. As colonial judges had to be geographically mobile to move through the British Empire, they possessed transnational careers and accumulated experiences from different common law based legal systems. Through their role as colonial adjudicators, judges influenced the world around them, in part, due to their experiences and socialization. We argue that judicial biographies provide a new way to see the way law moved across colonial and imperial jurisdictions.

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