Practicing Law in Frontier California


Practicing Law in Frontier California

Gordon Morris Bakken

Law in the American West Series

192 pages


March 2006


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Practicing Law in Frontier California Gordon Morris Bakken combines collective biography with an analysis of the function of the bar in a rapidly changing socioeconomic setting. Drawing on manuscript collections, Bakken considers hundreds of men and women who came to California to practice law during the gold rush and later, their reasons for coming, their training, and their usefulness to clients during a period of rapid population growth and social turmoil. He shows how law practice changed over the decades with the establishment of large firms and bar associations, how the state's boom-and-bust economy made debt collection the lawyer's bread and butter, and how personal injury and criminal cases and questions of property rights were handled. In Bakken's book frontier lawyers become complex human beings, contributing to and protecting the social and economic fabric of society, expanding their public roles even as their professional expertise becomes more narrowly specialized.

Author Bio

Gordon Morris Bakken is a professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. His books include The Development of Law on the Rocky Mountain Frontier, 1850-1912 (1983), and his articles have appeared in the American Journal of Legal History and other publications.


"Bakken has made good use of the manuscript collections of unknown but active and interesting lawyers whose careers helped to make law accessible to individuals in a highly dynamic society."—The American Journal of Legal History

"The study makes a valuable contribution by applying analytical criminal justice concepts to an important but frequently unnoticed portion of the United States."—The American Academy of Political and Social Science

"Anyone interested in California history or the place of lawyers in it will find Bakken's book a lively and well-documented work that hints that many of the legal issues now debated in California can be traced to the state's frontier days."—San Francisco Daily Journal

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