David J. Seipp
Law Alumni Scholar
Interests: legal history of all times and places, especially the earliest courtroom arguments in the common law tradition, as found in law reports of medieval England known as the Year Books
Though born and raised in the heartland of America — Dubuque, Iowa — noted legal historian and property law teacher David Seipp often looks across the Atlantic for inspiration in his legal research. Among his scholarly interests are the roles of judges, lawyers and jurors in the development of medieval English common law, the persistence and evolution of basic legal concepts throughout the centuries and the jurisprudential eccentricities of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. The medieval-minded professor is now compiling a large computer database that indexes and paraphrases more than 22,000 early English legal cases reported for the years 1268 through 1535. “The project is fascinating because it brings me into direct and intimate contact with the primary sources from the earliest formative period of English and American common law, most of which have not been printed since the year 1679,” he says.
A member of the BU Law faculty since 1986, Professor Seipp has taught courses in English legal history, American legal history, the history of legal education, property, copyright, intellectual property and introduction to U.S. law. His many journal articles and papers have appeared in publications throughout the world including Law and History Review, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Boston University Law Review and Proceedings of the British Legal History Conference. He is a contributor to the 60-volume Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, published in September 2004, and a director of the American Society for Legal History and the Ames Foundation.
Professor Seipp was a Bicentennial Scholar at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England, and a member of the law review at Harvard. He also has served as clerk to Judge Henry J. Friendly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as an associate at the firm of Foley, Hoag & Eliot in Boston.