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Friday, April 1, 2016

Cross-Country Book Launch for Wes Pue, Lawyers' Empire: Legal Professionals and Cultural Authority, 1780-1950

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending an unusual cross-country book launch. Everyone in the legal history business in Canada seems to know, like and admire Wes Pue, currently of the Allard School of Law at UBC, as do many around the world. His scholarship over the last three decades, in particular his work on the history of the legal professions, has been a key contribution to the field. Wes has also made his mark by his promotion of sociolegal research in Canada, particularly by helping create the very successful UBC Press Law and Society Series.

As part of this series, UBC Press has just published a collection of Wes's articles on the subject of the legal profession, Lawyers' Empire: Legal Professionals and Cultural Authority, 1780-1950.  

His many friends and fans took the opportunity presented by the publication to celebrate Wes, his collegiality, mentorship, and many accomplishments by organizing a book launch, based in Vancouver but with attendance and speakers from Toronto, Montreal and Calgary by videos and live videolinks as well as participation by emails from Australia, the UK and the US.

Lawyers' Empire is a wonderful collection, providing convenient access to Wes's work on the profession for scholars. It will also provide a terrific resource for students. The history of the profession is a non-intimidating entry point for legal history neophytes, and the decision to publish these articles in one, accessible place was an excellent one.

Also inspired was the idea (credit to Doug Harris and a team of luminaries too long to list here) to use the occasion of the book's publication to pay tribute to the author. Bravo to all, and thanks to Wes himself for being the reason.

Here's the blurb for the book:

Approaching the legal profession through the lens of cultural history, Wes Pue explores the social roles that lawyers imagined for themselves in England and its empire from the late-eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Each chapter focuses on a moment when lawyers sought to reshape their profession while at the same time imagining they were shaping nation and empire in the process. As an exploration of the relationship between legal professionals and liberalism, this book draws attention to recurrent tensions in between how lawyers have best assured their own economic well-being while simultaneously advancing the causes of liberty, cultural authority, stability, and continuity.

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