Logic and Experience: The Origin of Modern American Legal Education

By William P. Lapiana | Go to book overview

Epilogue

By the time the American Law Institute was founded, the new model law school had become a rigorous training ground for professionals. Leaders of the legal profession had once regarded the case method school as an incubator of dangerous ideas about the nature of law. It trained not competent leaders of society but mindless case lawyers whose understanding of their profession was limited to piling up citations. After World War I, however, the narrow technical nature of education in the case method school was more widely accepted as the model of professional competence. Whatever the various hopes and goals of those who helped create the American Law Institute, it did provide a mechanism by which practitioners, teachers, and judges could all cooperate in the great professional project of putting the rules into proper order. At least on the surface apolitical and technocratic, the work of the institute was the simple acknowledgment of the proper role of the legal profession. In a sense, then, the changes Langdell began bore fruit not so much as new methods of learning and understanding but as part of the transformation of American life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Langdell was an educator, of course, and his legacy to legal education has been controversial. In the 1920s and 1930s legal realism called Langdell's contributions into question. Some criticism emphasized what Langdell and his colleagues left out of legal education. As the importance of common law faded and statutes became more important, the limitation of legal education to parsing cases and explicating common law rules seemed less useful and less interesting. 1 John Johnson identified this shift to statute law as part of a transformation in sources of information important to courts, a transformation Langdellian legal education was ill-equipped to handle. 2 William Chase maintained that the narrowness of case method education stunted the teaching and thus the practice of administrative law, depriving government agencies of real power to police the market. 3 In addition, narrow technical training may have become less becomeless challenging for the legal professoriate. In John Henry Schlegel's view, by World War I legal academics had accomplished the systematic statement of the law that was the object of Langdell's science. 4 Legal realism then becomes,

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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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