The Thinness of Catholic Legal Education, a Review of Robert J. Kaczorowski, Fordham University Law School: A History
29 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2018 Last revised: 22 May 2019
Date Written: May 20, 2019
In his recent book, Fordham University Law School: A History, Robert J. Kaczorowski has authored an informative and scholarly history of Fordham Law School.
In this Review of the book, we first briefly summarize the overall history that Kaczorowski conveys. It is the story of an urban law school founded in 1905 to serve the professional aspirations of the children of New York’s Catholic immigrants — a school that rose from modest beginnings to be among the nation’s finest, but then languished in mediocrity for decades due to the syphoning off of revenue by university administrators. This period of unfulfilled potential came to an end in the 1990s, when Fordham Law School returned to elite status.
After describing Kaczorowski’s history, we then explain how the narrative Kaczorowski sets forth exemplifies the gradual attenuation of Catholic identity in Catholic legal education. Professor Kaczorowski’s account of Fordham Law School provides evidence of this attenuation of Catholic identity in legal education over time, and is itself proof of the thinness of this identity in the present day. Thus, while Fordham Law School’s Catholic and Jesuit identity feature prominently in the early chapters of Kaczorowski’s book, by the end of the story, this identity is an afterthought — a passing descriptive attached as a kind of certification of continuity with the past. Although this loss of identity is part of the history of Fordham Law School, Kaczorowski’s book does not address it directly, nor does it reflect upon the significance of this change.
Keywords: Fordham, Legal History, Catholic, Catholic Legal Education
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