David J. Seipp

Professor of Law

Law Alumni Scholar

AB summa cum laude, Harvard University
BA in jurisprudence, University of Oxford
JD magna cum laude, Harvard University
LLB First Class Honors, University of Cambridge

Areas of Interest
Legal History
Contact
Biography

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 US 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 US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as an associate at the firm of Foley, Hoag & Eliot in Boston.

Publications
  1. David Seipp, "Anthony Fitzherbert, La Novel Natura Brevium," in The Books That Made Law in the Western World (13th century -1940) , Serge Dauchy, Georges Martyn, Anthony Musson & Heikki Pihlajamaki, eds., Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (forthcoming).
  2. David Seipp, "Big Legal History and the Hundred Year Test," 34 Law and History Review (forthcoming).
  3. David Seipp, "A Brief History of Mortgage," in Mortgage Across Cultures: Land, Finance & Epistemology , Daivi Rodman-Taylor & Parker Shipton, eds., BU Working Group on Land Mortgage and Financial Inclusion (forthcoming).
  4. David Seipp, "How to Get Rid of a King: Lawyering the Revolution of 1399," in Proceedings of the Twenty-First British Legal History Conference , Catherine Macmillan & Charlotte Smith, eds., Cambridge University Press (forthcoming).
  5. David Seipp, "Introduction," to Nicholas St. John Green, Lectures on Torts, Criminal Law, and Kent's Commentaries (1875) at Boston University School of Law , Chuo University (forthcoming).
  6. David Seipp, "Introduction and Table," to Thomas Ashe, Promptuarie, ou Repertory Generall iii, reprint of 1614 edition, Law Book Exchange (forthcoming).
  7. David Seipp, "Introduction and Tables," to Henry Rolle, Un Abridgment des Plusieurs Cases iii, reprint of 1668 edition, Law Book Exchange (forthcoming).
  8. David Seipp, "Legal Services for the Poor in the Early Common Law," in Law and Society in Later Medieval England and Ireland, a Festschrift for Paul Brand , Travis Baker, ed., Ashgate Publishing (forthcoming).
  9. David Seipp, "Magna Carta in the Late Middle Ages: Over-Mighty Subjects, Under-Mighty Kings, and a Turn Away from Trial by Jury," 25 William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal (forthcoming).
  10. David Seipp, "Trust and Conscience in the Early Common Law," in The Confluence of Law and Religion: Interdisciplinary Reflections on the Work of Norman Doe 48, Frank Cranmer, Mark Hill, Celia Kenny & Russell Sandberg, eds., Cambridge University Press (2016). Publisher
  11. David Seipp, "When Lawyers Lie: Forging an English Constitution in 1399," in Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue 299, John Witte, Sara McDougall & Anna di Robilant, eds., Robbins Collection at the University of California at Berkeley (2016).
  12. David Seipp, "Introduction and Table," to Robert Brooke, La Graunde Abridgement iii-xvi, reprint of 1573 edition, Law Book Exchange (2015).
  13. David Seipp, review of Helen Lacey, The Royal Pardon: Access to Mercy in Fourteenth-Century England, York Medieval (2009), 32 Law and History Review { } (2014).
  14. David Seipp, "Introduction," in De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae v, The Lawbook Exchange (2013). [reprint of 1640 edition]
  15. David Seipp, "Introduction and Table of Contents," in Abridgement of Cases v, The Lawbook Exchange (2013). [reprint of circa 1490 edition]
  16. David Seipp, "Formalism and Realism in Fifteenth-century English Law: Bodies Corporate and Bodies Natural," in Judges and Judging in the History of the Common Law and Civil Law 37, P. Brand & J. Getzler, eds., Cambridge University Press (2012). Publisher
  17. David Seipp, Robert Paynell's King's Bench Reports (1625-1627), William Hamilton Bryson, ed., Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2010), 52 American Journal of Legal History 505 (2012).
  18. David Seipp, "Introduction and Lists of Sources," in The Grand Abridgement of the Law Continued iii-xx, William Hughes, ed., The Lawbook Exchange (2011).
  19. David Seipp, "Legal Education for Export: Takeo Kikuchi's Boston University," in Future of Comparative Study in Law: The 60th Anniversary of The Institute of Comparative Law in Japan, Chuo University 97, Tokyo: Chuo University Press (2011).
  20. David Seipp, "Trust and Fiduciary Duty in the Early Common Law," in Symposium The Role of Fiduciary Law and Trust in the Twenty-First Century: A Conference Inspired by the Work of Tamar Frankel, 91 Boston University Law Review 1011 (2011).
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  21. David Seipp, "Introduction and Tables," to Anthony Fitzherbert, La Graunde Abridgement , reprint of 1577 ed., The Lawbook Exchange (2009).
  22. David Seipp, "Presumptions in Early English Common Law," in The Law of Presumptions: Essays in Comparative Legal History 117, R. H. Helmholz & W. D. H. Sellar, eds., Duncker & Humblot (2009).
  23. David Seipp, "Introductory Tables and Notes," in Year Books; Or Reports in the Following Reigns, with Notes to Brooke and Fitzherbert's Abridgments , Carol F. Lee, ed., The Lawbook Exchange (2007).
  24. David Seipp, "New Introduction and Table of Contents," to Nicholas Statham, Abridgment of the Law III-XXII , The Lawbook Exchange (2007). [Margaret Center Klingelsmith, trans.]
  25. Year Books; Or Reports in the Following Reigns, with Notes to Brooke and Fitzherbert's Abridgments, David Seipp & Carol F. Lee, eds., The Lawbook Exchange (2007).
    Publisher
  26. David Seipp, "Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: The Judge as Celebrity," 27(4) The Supreme Court Historical Society Quarterly 1 (2006).
  27. David Seipp, "Our Law, Their Law, History, and the Citation of Foreign Law," in Symposium The Role of the Judge in the Twenty-First Century, 86 Boston University Law Review 1417 (2006).
    Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  28. David Seipp, "Introduction," in Symposium Lochner Centennial Conference, 85 Boston University Law Review 671 (2005).
    Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  29. David Seipp, "Fleta," in The New Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, (2004).
    Publisher
  30. David Seipp, "The Law's Many Bodies, and the Manuscript Tradition in English Legal History," review of John Hamilton Baker, The Law's Two Bodies : Some Evidential Problems in English Legal History, Oxford University Press (2001), 25 Journal of Legal History 73 (2004).
  31. David Seipp, review of Richard Firth Green, The Crisis of Truth: Law and Literature in Ricardian England, University of Pennsylvania Press (1999), 28 Ius Commune -- Zeitschrift fur Europaische Rechtsgeschichte 389 (2001).
  32. David Seipp, "Chief Justice Holmes on the Science and Art (and Politics) of Judging," 5 Massachusetts Legal History 19 (1999).
  33. David Seipp, The Year Books of Richard II: 1382-1383, Samuel E. Thorne & George F. Deiser, eds., The Ames Foundation (1996), 67 Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 149 (1999). HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  34. David Seipp, "Archibald Cox: Teacher," review of Ken Gormley, Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation, Da Capo Press , 78 Boston University Law Review 565 (1998). Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  35. David Seipp, "In Memoriam-Memorial Tributes for Professor Elizabeth B. Clark," 78 Boston University Law Review 248 (1998).
    Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  36. David Seipp, "Holmes's Path," 77 Boston University Law Review 515 (1997).
    Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  37. David Seipp, "The Distinction Between Crime and Tort in the Early Common Law," 76 Boston University Law Review 59 (1996).
    Lexis Advance | HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline | Westlaw
  38. David Seipp, "Who Was Melville Madison Bigelow?" 5 Boston University School of Law Alumni Magazine 6 (1996).
  39. David Seipp, "Crime in the Year Books," in Law Reporting in England: Proceedings of the Eleventh British Legal History Conference 15, Chantal Stebbings, ed., Hambledon Press (1995).
  40. David Seipp, "The Concept of Property in the Early Common Law," 12 Law and History Review 29 (1994).
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  41. David Seipp, "The Reception of Canon Law and Civil Law in the Common Law Courts Before 1600," 13 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 388 (1993).
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  42. David Seipp, review of Norman Doe, Fundamental Authority in Late Medieval English Law, Cambridge University Press (1991), 18 Ius Commune --Zeitschrift fur Europaische Rechts-geschichte 390 (1991).
  43. David Seipp, "The Structure of English Common Law in the Seventeenth Century," in Legal History in the Making: Proceedings of the Ninth British Legal History Conference 61, William Morrison Gordon, ed., Hambledon Press (1991).
  44. David Seipp, "Bracton, the Year Books, and the 'Transformation of Elementary Legal Ideas' in the Early Common Law," 7 Law and History Review 175 (1989).
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  45. David Seipp, review of Olivia F. Robinson, T. David Fergus & William Morrison Gordon, An Introduction to European Legal History, Professional Books Ltd. , 33 American Journal of Legal History 151 (1989). HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  46. David Seipp, "Roman Legal Categories in the Early Common Law," in Legal Record and Historical Reality: Proceedings of the Eighth British Legal History Conference 9, Thomas G. Watkin, ed., Hambledon Press (1989).
  47. David Seipp, "From Henry I to Sir Edward Coke," review of Samuel E. Thorne, Essays in English Legal History, Hambledon Press (1985), 37 Harvard Law School Bulletin 40 (1986).
  48. David Seipp, "English Judicial Recognition of a Right to Privacy," 3 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 325 (1983).
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  49. David Seipp, "The Right to Privacy in Nineteenth Century America," 94 Harvard Law Review 1892 (1981). [Note]
    HeinOnline (BU) | HeinOnline
  50. David Seipp, The Right to Privacy in American History, Harvard Program on Information Resources Policy, Report P-78-3 (1978).
    Publisher
Courses

3 credits

Selected topics in 19th- and 20th-century U.S. legal history. We will first explore the role of the legal profession in four public controversies: the authority of English common law after the American Revolution, slavery and racism, women's rights, and organized labor. We will then turn our attention to various methodologies for interpreting legal change: formalism, realism, law and economics, critical legal studies, and feminist jurisprudence. Readings (which will be plentiful) are drawn from primary sources (cases, speeches, and treatises) and secondary literature (articles and books). Students can either write a research paper or complete a take-home examination. Research papers may, but need not, fulfill the Writing Requirement.

SPRG 2017: LAW JD 804 A1 , Jan 17th to Apr 25th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 11:00 am 12:25 pm 3 David J. Seipp

3 credits

This course will cover the history of the common law in England from the late twelfth century to the time of the American Revolution. We will study the development of the legal profession, its doctrines, and its techniques in five areas: procedure, criminal law, property, contract, and tort. The readings emphasize primary sources, and students will give presentations in teams on historical documents handed out in class. Students can either write a research paper or complete a take-home examination. Research papers may, but need not fulfill the Writing Requirement. OFFERING PATTERN: This class not offered every year. Students are advised to take this into account when planning their long-term schedule.

FALL 2016: LAW JD 942 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 8th 2016
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 11:00 am 12:25 pm 3 David J. Seipp LAW 203

4 credits

Professor Seipp's Section: This course explores the basic law surrounding the disposition of property at death: (1) overview of the estate planning process and the policy considerations regarding inheritance law; (2) the process by which property is distributed in the absence of a will (intestacy); (3) the law of wills, examining formal requirements for the execution of a valid will, revocation, challenges to a will, and construction; (4) will substitutes and planning for incapacity; (5) the law of trusts, including revocable and pour-over trusts, creditor and beneficiary rights, and spendthrift trusts; (6) powers of appointment, perpetuities, and brief coverage of charitable trusts. This course does not address in detail tax-motivated estate planning. Professor Hurwitz's Section: This course explores the basic law surrounding the disposition of property at death: (1) overview of the estate planning process and the policy considerations regarding inheritance law; (2) the process by which property is distributed in the absence of a will (intestacy); (3) the law of wills, examining challenges to a will, formal requirements for the execution of a valid will, revocation, and construction; (4) will substitutes and planning for incapacity; (5) the law of trusts, including revocable and pour-over trusts, and creditor and beneficiary rights; (6) brief coverage of powers of appointment, perpetuities, spendthrift, and charitable trusts. This course does not address in detail tax-motivated estate planning.

FALL 2015: LAW JD 871 A1 , Aug 31st to Dec 2nd 2015
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Mon,Wed 2:10 pm 4:10 pm 4 Tritt LAW 103
SPRG 2016: LAW JD 871 H1 , Jan 12th to Apr 19th 2016
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 10:40 am 12:40 pm 4 Ilana Hurwitz LAW 101
FALL 2016: LAW JD 871 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 8th 2016
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 2:10 pm 4:10 pm 4 David J. Seipp LAW 414
SPRG 2017: LAW JD 871 H1 , Jan 17th to Apr 25th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 10:40 am 12:40 pm 4 Ilana Hurwitz
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