Without Precedent: The Life of Susie Marshall Sharp

By Anna R. Hayes | Go to book overview
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Susie Sharp sometimes said that her legal education began the day her father got his law license. As a student at the University of North Carolina School of Law, however, her formal legal training outstripped not only her father's but also that of the vast majority of practicing lawyers in the state. Indeed, her arrival in Chapel Hill coincided with fundamental changes taking place in legal education in general and at the UNC law school in particular.1 These changes, which were related to the emergence of the New South as an increasingly integral part of the nation as a whole, were reflected in every aspect of the law school experience, from admission requirements to teaching methods and curriculum to graduation requirements. When Susie Sharp entered UNC as a first-year law student, she was right on the cusp of the school's transformation from a clubby bar review factory to a modern law school. In a very short period of time, between about 1923 and her graduation in 1929, the UNC law school underwent a major transformation. Susie Sharp was one of the very first to graduate with what today would be considered a proper legal education.

The university had expanded dramatically in the years following the First World War. Between 1917 and 1930, the university's enrollment grew from 855 to 3,017 students.2 The modernization of the law school began under Lucius Polk McGehee, who served as dean from 1910 to 1923. It was under Dean McGehee that the law school added a third year of study, in 1919. Initially, however, very few students continued beyond the second year, which was then the minimum requirement to take the bar examination.3 In 1923, for example, there were 12 third-year students out of a student body of 123, up from only4 the previous year.

Dean McGehee also moved UNC away from the textbook-and-lecture sys


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Without Precedent: The Life of Susie Marshall Sharp


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