History of the J.D., etc.

With so many law schools around the world, including in Australia, now offering the J.D.,  readers might like to check out the draft article by Anders Walker, “Bramble Bush Revisited: Karl Llewellynm, the Great Depression, and the First Law School Crisis, 1929-1939”  recently posted at SSRN (my thanks to the Faculty Lounge for drawing it to my attention).

Overall a very good article.  It is wide ranging in coverage, including discussion of the history of the modern American law school, the case method, and the eventual move towards the post graduate J.D.  One small criticism is that I would like to have seen more discussion of the role of nineteenth century German legal science in the development of the case method.

The article also raises many interesting questions about teaching skills, interdisciplinary studies, the fit with the rest of the university and other issues directly relevant to contemporary discussions about the future of law school education.

A great classic article that may compliment this history is Robert W. Gordon’s, “The Geologic Strata of the Law School Curriculum”, 60 Vand. L. Rev. 339 (2007).  That article shows clearly the historic relationship between past changes to law school curricula and then trendy or contentious legal issues.

By Colin B. Picker.


One thought on “History of the J.D., etc.

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  1. I’ve been teaching at Fordham Law School in New York City this week and the students constantly brought up their concerns about both the utility and the cost of their education. With annual tuition running at US$50,000 many potential law students are thinking carefully about committing. Add to this that the changing legal markets we see in the UK and Australia which should expand possibilities for students are absent in the US, I can sympathise with these students. One reform being put forward by some law professors is to abandon law as a graduate degree and reinstate it as a first degree in order that students don’t have to incur the cost of a four-year liberal arts degree first. Although US legal education needs to change, it will take some time before it does.


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