American Law: An Introduction (3rd Revised edition)

Lawrence M. Friedman; Grant M. Hayden

This book provides an introduction to the American legal system for a broad readership. Its focus is on law in practice, on the role of the law in American society, and how the social context affects the living law of the United States. It covers the institutions of law creation and application, law in American government, American legal culture and the legal profession, American criminal and civil justice, and civil rights. Clearly written, the book has been widely used in both undergraduate and graduate courses as an introduction to the legal system; it will be useful, too, to a general audience interested in understanding how this vital social system works. _ This new edition, which keeps the same basic structure of earlier editions, has been revised and brought up to date, reflecting the way the legal system has adapted to the complex new world of the twenty-first century.


1. What Is a Legal System?
2. Law: Formal and Informal
3. The Background of American Law
4. The Structure of American Law: The Courts
5. The Structure of American Law: Statutes and Statute Makers
6. The Structure of American Law: Executing Policy
7. Federalism and American Legal Culture
8. Inside the Black Box: The Substance of Law
9. Crimes and Punishments
10. Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties
11. On Legal Behavior
12. Legal Culture: Legitimacy and Morality
13. The American Legal Profession
14. Law and Social Change
15. Epilogue: The Future of Law in the United States


Lawrence M. Friedman, the Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law at Stanford University School of Law, is an internationally renowned, prize-winning legal historian. He has been the leading expositor of the history of American law to a global audience of lawyers and lay people alike-and a leading figure in the law and society movement. Professor Friedman is particularly well known for treating legal history as a branch of general social history. From his award-winning History of American Law (1973), to his American Law in the 20th Century (2003), his canonical works have become classic textbooks in legal and undergraduate education. He is also a prolific author on crime and punishment, and his numerous books on those subjects have been translated into multiple languages.; Grant M. Hayden is Professor of Law at the SMU Dedman School of Law. He has written over twenty law review articles, essays, and book reviews on voting rights, labor law, and corporate law subjects. His articles have been published in the Michigan Law Review, California Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Fordham Law Review, and the Election Law Journal, among others. In 2008, he was a Visiting Professor of Law at Vanderbilt Law School, where he taught Labor Law and Voting Rights Law. He is currently on the editorial board of the Regional Labor Review and serves as a referee for the Election Law Journal, Jurimetrics, and Law & Social Inquiry.