Student Essay Winner Imagines a World without Creditors

Each year, the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition encourages scholars to explore the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint themsleves with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and law librarianship.Gale is honored to partner with AALL to facilitate the prizes for the winners of this year competition by providing a cash stipend and travel allowance to AALL’s annual meeting.

This year’s winner comes from SUNY Stonybrook. Check out his summary of his award-winning essay below, and we’ll see you in Philadelphia!

Lay Justices and Local Finance in Early New York

By Sung Yup Kip

Living in the twenty-first century, it is hard to imagine economic life without the existence of credit. How many of us hasn’t had to borrow money at one point in life (unless you belong to that fabled one percent), whether in the form of taking a student loan, taking out a mortgage, or simply letting credit card debt pile up? Credit, perhaps just as much as money itself, is the lifeblood of the modern economy, allowing us to get by when our meager earnings fall short of our daily needs. People of course lent and borrowed money long before the advent of market economies and capitalism, but in pre-modern economies credit was often extended on a personal basis, whereas modern credit markets revolve around formal credit instruments supported by the firm hand of law. Thanks to this legal-financial system, borrowing no longer has to be limited to one’s immediate acquaintances, and creditors feel more secure about lending money to strangers, thus making more credit available in the market.

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