Logic and Experience: The Origin of Modern American Legal Education

By William P. Lapiana | Go to book overview

2

Harvard's Transformation

The outlines of the new model law school that Charles William Eliot and Christopher Columbus Langdell created at Harvard are familiar to us today. The ideal institution selects its students through rigorous entrance standards and teaches them using the case method in a graded curriculum that features yearly examinations in each course. Perhaps most important, Langdell's and Eliot's new model school claimed to provide the only true method for training future members of the profession. A system of apprenticeship dominated by active members of the profession gave way to academic training dominated by a new division of the profession -- full-time teachers of law.

Langdell is almost universally regarded as the guiding force in this transformation. 1 It was Eliot, however, who hired Langdell in circumstances that help reveal his plans for the school and explain many difficulties the school confronted in fulfilling those plans. Eliot guided the internal transformation of the school in conformity with his view of a properly rigorous academic environment, mediating conflict among the faculty and playing the major role in selecting its members. Eliot even had an important part in establishing Langdell's most remembered contribution -- the case method of teaching law. Eliot was a major actor in the reform of Harvard Law School from within.


Appointing a Dean

Eliot hired Langdell as part of his campaign to raise standards in the university and the professions. He outlined his views early. In 1869 the youthful chemist and soon-to-be president of Harvard published a two-part article on "The New Education" in the "Atlantic Monthly". In a footnote he observed that the paucity of Bachelors of Arts among holders of LL.B.'s and M.D.'s debased the professions -- "The term 'learned profession' is getting to have a sarcastic flavor" -- and thus foreshadowed the difficult and costly effort he pursued as president of the university to raise the standards of the professional schools. Even more important, however, was his assertion in the same article that "no subject of human inquiry can be out of place in

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Logic and Experience: The Origin of Modern American Legal Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Harvard's Transformation 7
  • 3 - Antebellum Legal Education 29
  • 4 - Case Method and Legal Science 55
  • 5 - Harvard and the Legal World 79
  • 6 - A New Legal Science 110
  • 7 - Opposition 132
  • 8 - Reconciliation 148
  • Epilogue 168
  • Notes 171
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index 243
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