Lawrence M. Friedman (born April 2, 1930) is an American law professor, historian, expert in American legal history, and author of nonfiction and fiction books. He has been a member of the faculty at Stanford Law School since 1968.
Friedman received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago in 1948 and his J.D. and LL.M from the University of Chicago Law School (where he was on the staff of the University of Chicago Law Review) in 1951 and 1953, respectively. Admitted to the bar in Illinois in 1951, he was associated with the firm of D'Ancona, Pflaum, Wyatt, and Riskind in Chicago from 1955 to 1957. At the time, his practice area was trusts and estates. Friedman taught at Saint Louis University School of Law as Assistant Professor of Law (1957–60) and as Associate Professor of Law (1960–61). He then moved to the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he was Associate Professor of Law (1961–65) and then Professor of Law (1965–68). Friedman was a Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford Law School from 1966 to 1967 and moved to Stanford in 1968. He holds courtesy appointments with Stanford's department of history and political science.
Friedman is the recipient of six honorary law degrees: LL.D. degrees from the University of Puget Sound Law School (1977), John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (1989), University of Lund (Sweden) (1993), John Marshall Law School (1995), and University of Macerata (Italy) (1998), and a D.Juris. from the University of Milan (Italy) (2006).
Friedman has said that he was influenced by his colleague James Willard Hurst, who was at the Wisconsin Law School at the same time as Friedman. Hurst was twenty years older than Friedman, and Hurst is often credited as the founder of the discipline of American legal history.
Friedman is internationally recognized in the field of legal history. He is regarded as one of the founders of the Law and Society movement in North America and an influential figure within the sociology of law.
Friedman's legal and historical writings are unusual in their appeal to a broad audience. A History of American Law was first published in 1973. In 2016, it ranks number 21 in the Amazon.com rankings of bestsellers in the category of legal reference.
Friedman is also an accomplished creative writer. He has published at least eight mystery novels, generally murder mysteries involving a San Mateo attorney named Frank May. Friedman publishes his fiction writing as "Lawrence Friedman" and his nonfiction writing as "Lawrence M. Friedman."