Recollections of Griffin Bell Walter F. George School of Law Mercer University
Martin, T. Baldwin, The Journal of Southern Legal History
In the fall of 1945, Mercer University opened its law school on die Macon campus in die Ryals Building. The opening class had seven students and five professors, and the tuition, as I recall, was $250 a quarter. World War II was over and all of a sudden the student body mushroomed with returning veterans, most of whom were married, some with children, and all of whom were wearing pieces of service uniforms. They were going to school on dieir GI Bill,1 and there were provisions in die law at diat time that provided for "Fifty-Two Forty or Fight," which meant that they received forty dollars a week for fifty-two weeks. Most of diese veterans lived in the public housing located soudi of die Mercer University campus. Among die first wave of law students was Griffin Bell, married and, as I recall, a father. He and all of die others arrived with one thing in mind - to get a good legal education, graduate, and start making some money.
Griffin Bell was brilliant and extremely ambitious. He kept copious notes in the classroom, and some of us who were not as diligent would purchase copies of his notes for a small stipend. Griffin was always well prepared, outspoken in class, and completely focused on success. He passed die Georgia Bar exam while in law school and became City Attorney for Warner Robins, Georgia while still a student. In addition, Griffin clerked for a local law firm, and he did all of tins with a passion for success. …