Law School (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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Law School (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

The materials in this Deep Blue collection form part of a larger record group for the University of Michigan Law School held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index of archival materials related to the Law School, please consult the following online finding aids:

Researchers may also be interested in related content found in the University of Michigan Web Archives:

For more information or assistance, please contact Reference and Access Services at the Bentley Historical Library.

Founded in 1859, the Law School was one of the initial three departments of the University of Michigan. Records and publications of the Law School document the evolution of legal education at the University of Michigan. This Deep Blue collection includes academic regulations and degree requirements for various programs (Doctor of the Science of Law, S.J.D.; Juris Doctor, J.D.; Master of Comparative Law, M.C.L.; and Master of Laws, LL.M.) issued from 2002 to 2011. Also contains archived versions of the Law School website from 2002-2008.

The University of Michigan Law School was founded on October 5, 1859, although provision for a department of law had been made in 1837 in the act establishing the university. Called the Law Department until 1915, it was almost immediately considered the premier institution of legal education in the Midwest.[1] It was one of the first three departments in the university, along with the Department of Literature, Science and the Arts and the Department of Medicine

The original faculty consisted of James V. Campbell, then Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court; Charles I. Walker, a Detroit lawyer; and Thomas M. Cooley, an attorney in Adrian. In 1866, Michigan became the first Law School in the country to add a fourth faculty member, Ashley Pond.[2] The faculty's first action in 1859 was to elect Judge Campbell to the deanship, and Professor Cooley to the position of Secretary of the Faculty. One of the most well-respected lawyers of his time was Professor Cooley, who became dean in 1871 and continued until 1883. During his tenure, Michigan attracted more students than the Harvard Law School.

The Michigan Law Journal began publication in 1892, and was replaced in 1902 by the Michigan Law Review. Both publications added to the intellectual vitality of the Law School. Under Henry M. Bates, the case system, first instituted at Harvard University, was put into effect. Bates, whose tenure lasted from 1910 through 1939, was also responsible for hiring faculty he was confident were "legal scholars in the highest sense of the term," and who held a Bachelor of Laws degree, and, later, Juris Doctor or Doctor of the Science of Law degrees,[5] thus raising the standard of education at the Law School. The Bates years also saw the construction of the Law Quadrangle, which was largely made possible by a gift from William W. Cook. Cook, an alumnus of the Law School (Class of 1882) and a corporate lawyer in New York. Cook's gifts--including the revenue received from the Lawyer's Club, and the substantial endowment he left to the Law School when he died in 1930—also helped bolster and sustain the legal research at the University of Michigan in a manner unmatched by the financial resources of any other law school until much later. After 1945, under the guidance and skill of the faculty and dean, the case system of the previous generation was modified and strengthened with course problems, text materials, term papers, seminars, and individual research and writing. Also during this generation, research programs were inaugurated and developed with the assistance of grants from the Ford Foundation, The Phoenix Memorial Project, and the William W. Cook legal research fund. The first graduating class of the Law School in 1860 numbered 24 students. By 1900, enrollment was 837. Since its peak in 1971/72 of 1207 students, the Law School has kept enrollment under 1200 through a strict admissions policy. Though the School is no longer growing in numbers, it is a dynamic institution, with a reputation matched by few others.

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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