Thomas J. McSweeney
Associate Professor of Law
Office phone: (757) 221-3829
Office location: Room 223B
Areas of Specialization
Legal History-Early History of the Common Law, Common Law's Relationship to Civil Law, History of Lawyers; Property Law; Trusts and Estates
Representative Professional Activities and Achievements
Thomas McSweeney earned his B.A. from the College of William and Mary, where he was a James Monroe Scholar, and continued his studies at Cornell University, where he earned a J.D./LL.M. as part of Cornell's program in international and comparative law and a Ph.D. in history. After completing his Ph.D., Professor McSweeney worked for two years as a visiting assistant professor at Cornell Law School, teaching property and legal history. During his time at Cornell, he won three awards for his teaching and was awarded research grants to work at the Huntington Library, the British Library, and the British National Archives. In 2014, Professor McSweeney was selected to present his work at the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop, convened jointly by the law schools at Georgetown, Columbia, USC, and UCLA. In 2015, he was selected as a fellow of the American Society for Legal History’s Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History.
Professor McSweeney's research focuses on the first century and a half of the common law, the period between the establishment of the writ system in the 1160s and 1170s and the end of the thirteenth century. He is particularly interested in the ways a fledgling professional judicial bench began to schematize the work they were doing in the courts using Roman law as their framework. His published articles have explored the legal-literary culture that developed throughout Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He is currently working on a book on the justices who wrote the Bracton treatise in the thirteenth century and their struggles to define themselves as England's first legal professionals through their writing.
- Priests of the Law: Roman Law and the Making of England's First Legal Professionals (in process).
- Creating a Literature for the King’s Courts in the Later Thirteenth Century: Hengham Magna, Fet Asaver, and Bracton, 37 J. Leg. Hist. 41 (2016). Online.
- Salvation by Statute: Magna Carta, Legislation, and the King's Soul, 25 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. (forthcoming, December 2016).
- Imagining an Ideal World Through a Legal Text: Konungsbók and the Medieval Icelandic Commonwealth, in process.
- The King's Courts and the King's Soul: Pardoning as Almsgiving in Medieval England, 40 Reading Medieval Studies 159 (2014) (Special Issue, Law's Dominion: Medieval Studies for Paul Hyams 2014) (Academia.edu). SSRN.
- English Justices and Roman Jurists: The Civilian Learning Behind England's First Case Law, 84 Temp. L. Rev. 827 (2012) (Academia.edu). SSRN.
- Property Before Property: Romanizing the English Law of Land, 60 Buff. L. Rev. 1139 (2012) (Academia.edu). SSRN.
- Magna Carta and the Right to Trial by Jury, in Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor (Randy J. Holland ed., Library of Congress' 800th Anniversary Volume 2014).
- Magna Carta, Civil Law, and Canon Law, in Magna Carta and the Rule of Law (Reb Brownell et al. eds., American Bar Association's 800th Anniversary Volume 2014) (Academia.edu). SSRN.
- Between England and France: A Cross-Channel Legal Culture in the Late Thirteenth Century, in Law, Justice, and Governance: New Views on Medieval English Constitutionalism (Richard Kaeuper ed., Brill 2013).
- Co-author, The Significance of the Corpus Iuris Civilis: Matilda of Canossa and the Revival of Roman Law, in Matilda of Canossa & the Origins of the Renaissance, (2015) (with Michèle K. Spike) (Catalogue entry for art exhibit "Matilda of Canossa & the Origins of the Renaissance, Muscarelle Museum of Art, Feb.-April 2015).
- Book Review, The Medieval Review (2011) (reviewing Law as Profession and Practice in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honor of James A. Brundage).