Thomas J. McSweeney
Assistant 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.
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 Roman and canon law origins of English case law, the problems of trying to overlay English land customs with the Roman law of property, and English legal culture's influence on the continent. 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.
- Co-author, Casebook, Islamic Law (with David Powers) (forthcoming).
- Priests of the Law: Roman Law and the Making of England's First Legal Professionals (forthcoming).
- Writing Fiction as Law: The Story in the Gragas Manuscripts, (forthcoming).
- English Justices and Roman Jurists: The Civilian Learning Behind England's First Case Law, 84 Temp. L. Rev. 827 (2012).
- Property Before Property: Romanizing the English Law of Land, 60 Buff. L. Rev. 1139 (2012).
- Book Review, The Medieval Review (2011) (reviewing Law as Profession and Practice in Medieval Europe: Essays in Honor of James A. Brundage).
- Magna Carta and Civil Law, in Magna Carta and the Rule of Law (Reb Brownell et al. eds., American Bar Association) (forthcoming 2014).
- 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).