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History of the Yale Law School

History of the Yale Law School: The Tercentennial Lectures

Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    History of the Yale Law School
    Book Description:

    The entity that became the Yale Law School started life early in the nineteenth century as a proprietary school, operated as a sideline by a couple of New Haven lawyers. The New Haven school affiliated with Yale in the 1820s, but it remained so frail that in 1845 and again in 1869 the University seriously considered closing it down. From these humble origins, the Yale Law School went on to become the most influential of American law schools. In the later nineteenth century the School instigated the multidisciplinary approach to law that has subsequently won nearly universal acceptance. In the 1930s the Yale Law School became the center of the jurisprudential movement known as legal realism, which has ever since shaped American law. In the second half of the twentieth century Yale brought the study of constitutional and international law to prominence, overcoming the emphasis on private law that had dominated American law schools. By the end of the twentieth century, Yale was widely acknowledged as the nation's leading law school.The essays in this collection trace these notable developments. They originated as a lecture series convened to commemorate the tercentenary of Yale University. A distinguished group of scholars assembled to explore the history of the School from the earliest days down to modern times. This volume preserves the highly readable format of the original lectures, supported with full scholarly citations.Contributors to this volume are Robert W. Gordon, Laura Kalman, John H. Langbein, Gaddis Smith, and Robert Stevens, with an introduction by Anthony T. Kronman.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12876-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xii)

    The Yale Law School is today an institution of national renown. It plays a conspicuous role in the legal profession, and its influence reaches beyond the law into the realms of politics, business, and culture. But how the Yale Law School came to be the place it now is—how it grew from its roots in the New Haven law office of Seth Staples, survived the fiscal crises of the nineteenth century, developed a distinctive style of teaching and research, became a center of iconoclastic scholarship and reformism in the 1930s, and adjusted to the upheavals of the 1960s—all...

  4. History of the Yale Law School: Provenance and Perspective
    (pp. 1-16)

    Historians irritate lawyers. Whenever I talk, as a historian, to a group of lawyers, I am asked, “So what is your solution?” Historians, however, do not normally offer normative solutions; they seek to encourage intelligent normative and political debate. What historians are engaged in is the telling of a story. We no longer believe, as did the German historians of the second part of the nineteenth century, that if we assemble all the facts, history will write itself and be in some mysterious way objective. History is an art. It flourishes with a strong element of the subjective. Responsible historians,...

  5. Blackstone, Litchfield, and Yale: The Founding of the Yale Law School
    (pp. 17-52)

    The origins of the Yale Law School trace to the earliest days of the nineteenth century, when there was as yet no university legal education. Law was learned mostly by clerking as an apprentice in a lawyer’s office. The first law schools, including the New Haven school that became Yale, developed from the apprenticeship system. The Yale Law School originated as a proprietary school in the law office of a practicing lawyer. This New Haven school was inspired by a forerunner, located in upstate Litchfield, Connecticut. The Litchfield Law School was an astonishingly successful venture, which shaped the development of...

  6. Law School in a University: Yale’s Distinctive Path in the Later Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 53-74)

    In my previous lecture in this series,¹ I described the founding of the Yale Law School and undertook to place it in a broader setting as one of the earliest chapters in the history of university legal education in the Anglo-American world. I broke off in the 1840s with the Yale Law School as a proprietary venture operated from a “dingy” rented room over a downtown storefront.² Hitchcock and Daggett, the nominal professors, were practicing lawyers and part-time public officials, whose law school was a sideline. This enterprise became linked to Yale through Daggett’s joint appointment as Kent Professor of...

  7. Professors and Policymakers: Yale Law School Faculty in the New Deal and After
    (pp. 75-137)

    John Langbein’s lectures in this book, on the law schools at Litchfield and Yale in the nineteenth century, end the story around 1906, with the appointment of Arthur Linton Corbin to the Yale law faculty. At the urging of the New Haven bar, which wanted to save its law library, the administration of Yale College had preserved the struggling proprietary law school, staffed by part-time practitioners, from extinction. Yale had given it a small endowment, a modest building in Hendrie Hall, and a grandiose mission—to supplement a basic training in private law with studies in Roman law, international law,...

  8. Politics and the Law School: The View from Woodbridge Hall, 1921–1963
    (pp. 138-153)

    The Yale Law School in the middle years of the twentieth century was a problem for successive university presidents ensconced in nearby Woodbridge Hall. The difficulty stemmed both from disagreements over the role of a law school within the university and from presidential fears that the association of the Law School and particular faculty with left/liberal positions would deprive Yale of sorely needed financial support from alumni. It was exacerbated by the anti-Semitic and anti-New Deal prejudices of one president (James Rowland Angell, 1921–1937) and the conviction of another (A. Whitney Griswold, 1950–1963) that all Yale faculty should...

  9. The Dark Ages
    (pp. 154-237)

    As a historian of the Yale Law School, I have suffered from a recurring dream over the past twenty years. In it, I have died and gone to heaven. (The dream entails a leap of faith.) Almost as soon as I enter the pearly gates, I am handed a summons to appear before a tribunal. There is no information about what will take place, but I infer it will not be pleasant. Arriving, I find that I am facing a group of Yale Law professors from the 1930s headed by their dean, Charles E. Clark. I realize at once that...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 238-238)
  11. Index
    (pp. 239-257)