Obiter Dicta: The Bard & the Bar

The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept.

— Measure for Measure

Four centuries later, moderns who celebrate the Bard's birthday often miss the vivid life that Shakespeare gave to the law in hundreds of legal puns, parodies and allusions. He never studied for the bar, but in that lavishly litigious era he could hardly escape learning about it. Elizabethans thronged their court rooms with far more acuity than to day's viewers of TV's Defenders; Shakespeare's father alone was involved in more than 50 lawsuits. If history's most absorbent author...

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