The Rise of the Modern American Law School: How Professionalization, German Scholarship, and Legal Reform Shaped Our System of Legal Education
56 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2005
American law schools were decisively transformed by an amalgam of forces: German scholastic methods, British common law and philosophy, the professionalization of the bar, and the legal elite's concern about the expansion of the profession. This article integrates these historical narratives and shows how this welter of educational trends and social/political concerns created the modern American law school. Part I analyses how reform, professionalism, and prejudice played roles in restructuring the way law was practiced, taught, and regulated, both in the schools and in the cities. Part II explores the effect and allure of England, scrutinizing the power of British common law, Darwinism, and the ethnic-racial cult of Anglo-Saxonism. Part III examines the German educational influence on nineteenth-century university reformers, and details the effect of German scientific method on elite law schools. I argue that although much has been written on the birth of the modern American law school, these individual narratives are incomplete and misleading unless they are combined into one cohesive whole.
Keywords: legal history, legal education, professionalization, German scientific method
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation