TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Leiter: American Legal Education: The First 150 Years

Huffington Post op-ed:  American Legal Education: The First 150 Years, by Brian Leiter (Chicago):

Why do law schools educate new lawyers the way they do, not only through the "case method" and Socratic questioning, the methodology made famous in the 1973 film The Paper Chase (though hardly any professors are as mean as the film's notorious Professor Kingsfield), but also through interdisciplinary education in economics, history, psychology and the like?

Two individuals loom large in the story of American legal education over the last (almost!) 150 years. Christopher Columbus Langdell, Dean of the Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, set the paradigm for what law schools and legal scholars should do, a paradigm that lasted for nearly a century, until my colleague Judge Richard Posner finally upset it in the 1970s. That gloss perhaps exaggerates the influence of these two individuals, but only slightly.

Dan Rodriguez (Dean, Northwestern) comments here.

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