Professor Robin Effron and Vice Dean Christina Mulligan Look at Hamilton through a Legal Lens



In a collection of essays in Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues through the Hit Musical (Lisa A. Tucker, ed.; Cornell University Press, 2020), legal scholars, including Professor Robin Effron and Vice Dean Christina Mulligan, discuss the show, based on the life of attorney and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, from a legal point of view.

In “Finding Constitutional Redemption through Hamilton,” Mulligan examines the meaning and controversy over casting actors of color as historical figures who were white. “We construct who America is,” she writes. “Hamilton participates in that construction by ‘reallocating the ownership of the republic’ to people who have historically and unjustly been alienated from it.”

In “Taking Law School Musicals Seriously: A Little Love Letter to Legal Musicals and the Lawyers Who Love Them,” Effron, who enjoyed a previous career as a singer and musician, reflects on the importance of the “law revue,” a student-produced annual musical parody of law school and the law, to her ability to tie her two worlds together. “It was the repetition and evolution of law in the books and law on the stage that kept me afloat and propelled me toward my career in which I find utter joy and satisfaction,” she writes.

Mulligan focuses her scholarship on efforts to adapt intellectual property law for the digital age, the relationship between law and technology, and theories of constitutional interpretation. Her writing has explored the Internet of Things, robot accountability, and early translations of the Constitution. She recently participated in The Constitution Drafting Project of the National Constitution Center.

Effron, an expert in civil procedure and comparative contract law, serves as co-director of the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law. Her articles on procedure and federal courts have appeared in numerous journals including Georgetown Law Journal, Alabama Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Boston University Law Review, and North Carolina Law Review, and has been cited by several state and federal courts. She has been published in the New York Law Journal and other outlets.

Read the book

Listen to Mulligan’s Constitution Drafting Project podcast

Watch Effron’s interview with Dean Michael T. Cahill