Coleridge, was appointed in 1855 to report on the Inns of Court. Both these bodies recommended the establishment of a University n of Law, under the control of the Inns; but the outcome seems to have been not much more than a zealous increase of the number of lectures by the Readers of the Inns. The old system was revivified, not materially altered.
In 1871 (when Professor Langdell’s incumbency in this school had but begun) Professor Bryce and Professor Dicey came to the United States and visited several law schools. The Columbia Law School received from them the most favorable comment, at the head of which was (and still is) Professor Dwight, a man of great personal magnetism. The idea of a University of Law was now again mooted by the Society for Legal Education, having at its head Lord Selborne, who carried through in 1873 the measure reforming the judiciary system. The principal material result seems to have been that the readers of the Inns were replaced by professors and tutors, the number being increased. Among these were included, in 1873, such scholars as Amos, Broom, and Hunter, and, in 1886, Pollock, Bryce, and Harrison. An extension, within the last fifteen or twenty years, of the number and scope of the subjects required for the law degree at the larger universities shows the wide workings of this spirit of improvement. In 1883 appeared Professor Dicey’s plea for the teaching of English law at the universities. Early in 1885 Mr. Finch visited the Harvard Law School, and by his lectures at Cambridge is now introducing what may fairly be called, according to the “Law Quarterly Review,” the method of Professor Langdell. In the fall of 1885 came Professor Pollock, and visited the Harvard Law School, and the impression produced by its method of instruction has been an important influence, as he tells us in the preface to his “Treatise on Torts,” not only in his teaching but in his writing also. Whether Professor Dicey follows the case method or not we do not know. Mr. Finch has published a Selection of Cases on the English Law of Contract, Part I., and an inaugural address on Legal Education, its Aim and Method. The important features of this fourth stage of legal education in England are (a) the radical change in the source of instruction, — for it now begins to be given at universities by scholars holding university professorships, instead of in London by barristers under the auspices of the Inns of Court; (b) the adoption of the Langdell method by Mr. Finch, — for though there are strong reasons why it was natural to follow an American method, it seems somewhat noteworthy that the long-tried and thorough methods of legal education in Germany, for instance, should have been passed over, more especially as the genius of the English law student is not suited, according to eminent English authority, to the practice of oral discussion in class.
It should be observed that, long before the present generation, resort was had to the professors of an American law school for suggestions upon legal education. In the legal reform discussions of 1840–56, the names of Professor Greenleaf and Mr. Justice Story were more than once mentioned in connection with the proposed Law University.
- See 25 Macmillan’s Mag., at 127 and 209.
- A.V.D. in 2 L. Q. Rev. 88.
- 3 Law Rev. 379; 12 id. 379; Report, supra, Append. p. 349–50.