Justin L. Simard
My research traces the relationship between lawyers and economic development. Studying lawyers’ work drafting agreements, performing due diligence, securing notes, and giving advice—important professional activities often downplayed by other scholars—reveals the central role that the legal profession has played and continues to play in shaping American commerce.
The commercial role of lawyers brought them into direct contact with the law of slavery. My research explores the legacy of slave law, revealing that American judges and lawyers continue to cite slave cases as good law today and that such cases have not only been incorporated into modern judicial decisions but also into the Uniform Commercial Code. You can learn more about this research and access a database of cases related to slavery at http://www.citingslavery.org.
I am currently an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University College of Law where I teach Professional Responsibility, Commercial Law, and Legal history. I'm also working on research that links the law of slavery to contemporary American law and am preparing a book manuscript based on my dissertation, Legal Economy: Lawyers and the Development of American Commerce, 1780-1870.