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Lawyers and Legal Change, 25 LAW & HIST. REV. 635 (2007)


From Tavern to Courthouse examines the legal history of early Massachusetts through the lens of courthouse architecture. It describes an emerging professional legal bar struggling to elevate its prestige through the construction of increasingly specialized and dignified spaces for court proceedings. The strength of the book lies in its visual images and in the anecdotal descriptions of physical spaces and rituals that McNamara culled from primary materials. The book contains what is likely to remain a definitive collection of photographs and drawings of the courthouses built in Massachusetts between the mid-seventeenth century and the mid-nineteenth century. The numerous anecdotes peppered throughout the book---often comments by major historical figures like Samuel Sewall and John Adams-provide a fascinating glimpse into how architecture and ritual were experienced by participants in the system.

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