The critical moment in socio-legal studies that flowered in the United States and elsewhere between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s coincided with the maturation of the Legal Studies Department at Melbourne's LaTrobe University. During its two-decade span (1972-1994) La Trobe Legal Studies developed multidisciplinary critical and theoretical perspectives on law as substance, as professional practice, as field of academic inquiry to an extent and depth unrivalled in Australia or, with just a few exceptions, internationally. This essay charts the particular trajectory followed by one of those perspectives, legal history, both at La Trobe and in the wider world. Simultaneously, it offers a short history of the Department itself of its growth during the 1970s and 1980s; of its transformation into a law school during the 1990s; and of the struggles to maintain a place for the social in the legal that occurred during that transformation.

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