Page images


The Ame

w School Review

v is aptness in

other avocations.
offers of larger in-

dingly diffi-
ir positions as teachers,
trated by repeated refus-
which some law professors

by the


nerican Law Schools

[ocr errors]


Dismissal. the processes of growth our various law schools

Approaching the question of the teachresulted in substan

ing force from the other side, no satisfunction in the var

factory method of getting rid of undethough the line

sirable professors has been devised. To them are oft

guard against their retention by election To the

for a short term is essentially bad. It functir

introduces an element of uncertainty inthe

to the profession which is intolerable. Its tendency is to prevent good men from engaging in teaching at all, and particularly to prevent acceptance of any particular chair offered on such conditions. On the other hand, to depend upon the

authorities to remove an unsatisfactory which are usually presented to the stu

professor is hardly safe. All are loath dents in the form of theory.

to take the initiative in such disagreeable

matters. In cases of great wrong or Selection.

such conduct as to occasion public critiAnother of the serious problems con

cism, cognizance of the matter will be cerning law schools is, How shall the

taken, but simple incompetency, or lack faculty be selected? Perhaps the most

of fitness hardly amounting to incompecommon method is for the governing tency, is almost beyond redress in this body to select all teachers of the rank of

way, and yet a faculty and an institution professor, whether of full or less grade,

can be badly handicapped by the accumuand for the president or dean, sometimes

lation of professors not good enough to with and sometimes without the concur

keep and yet not quite bad enough to rence of the faculty, to select the teach

turn out. ers of less than professorial rank. The

It might be well to elect untried prochief advantage of this method is that the professors feel independent one of

fessors for an indefinite length of time the other. No one owes his place to the

at a salary fixed for a short period, say vote of one or more of his colleagues,

two years, with the understanding that nor has been employed against the vote

failure to raise the salary at the expiraof others. Its principal disadvantage is

tion of that time should be equivalent to that the faculty who know in detail the

a vote of want of confidence. During needs of the school have no voice in the

this short period his capacity and desiraselection of those who are to supply those bility as a teacher can be definitely ascerneeds. The better plan seems to be for tained. If he prove a success, increase the faculty, through the dean, to recom- his salary; if he has not demonstrated mend several persons from whom the

his worth, let him retire. The advantage managing board shall make the selection. of this method lies in the fact that it This secures the approval of two sepa- gives a negative way of escape. .

No rate bodies each fairly competent to charges need be preferred, no affirmative judge of qualifications, and gives per- vote of incompetency need be taken. haps as high a guaranty of efficiency as Absence of affirmative approval auto. can be obtained.

matically settles the relations.


of many classrooms to hear the responses No treatment of the operation of the

to the professor's questions with suffilaw school is complete without at least

cient clearness to keep firm hold upon brief reference to the matter of salaries.

the thought sought to be developed by According to current reports, these vary

the teacher. At best, a good deal of the from good compensation paid by some

student's attention is given to the matter of the richer schools to quite meager pit- of simple hearing, and his power of con

centration is diminished by that much. tances paid by others. It cannot be justly contended that law professors should

Often, after the most strained attention,

he loses the connection and probably receive salaries equal to the incomes of the members of the bar who enjoy the

misses the point. Not only does he fail most lucrative practices; on the other

to benefit by the class exercise, but he is hand, salaries ought not to be regulat- developing bad habits of study and uned by the income of mediocre lawyers. willingly falling into practice of missing Somewhere between these extremes

opportunities. In very large classes in should be found a golden mean just alike

rooms poorly constructed an oral quiz is

almost without value as a means of systo employer and employed. In state in

tematic instruction to the class as a body. stitutions, at least, the salary of a full professor should not be less than that

Libraries. of the judges of the courts of last re

The value of the library is also beyond sort in the state in which the school iş

dispute, Libraries upon an extensive located. If particular schools can and

scale are beyond the financial ability of will pay more, so much the better for

many good law schools. It is, however, them, but the average salary might well

within the power of almost every school be put at that of a Supreme Court judge.

to obtain the most essential books. With

the law school as with the lawyer, develMaterial Equipment.

opment depends more upon the use made The organization of a law school also of the books that are accessible than upinvolves provision for its material equip- on the number of unused volumes stored ment. The most important of this equip- away upon the shelves. Within five or ment is a proper building and library. six thousand volumes, judiciously chosen, As to the need of well-constructed, com- may be embraced all the books essential fortable and healthful rooms, with good

for the use of a student in the prosecuacoustics, there can be no differences of tion of his undergraduate study. If a opinion.. One who has not actually con- larger number can be obtained, it is very ducted class exercises cannot properly desirable that this should be done. I appreciate these material aids. It is diffi- simply wish to make the point that the cult for any student to give undivided large library is not essential to thoroughattention to a class exercise in a state of ness in undergraduate study. For rebodily discomfort. In most schools this search work by the faculty, or by graduactual discomfort is a thing of the past, ate students, a large library is indispenbut I fear that bad acoustics abide with sable. The ancient adage admonishes the us still. This condition is trying on the practicing lawyer to “beware of the man teacher, but still more trying on the stu- of one book." The thought expressed dents. If a class is of any size, it is very in it may be fairly applied to the modestdifficult for students in the remote parts ly equipped law school which by its

methods of instruction induces its stu- tive, and, if so, in what proportion? Is dents to become so familiar with the there any natural order of sequence in four or five thousand volumes within legal topics, and, if so, what is that orits library that they know all about a der and can it be preserved in the actual few of them, and how to use those of arrangement and carrying out of a law each kind effectively.


As these different questions are an-
Methods of Teaching.

swered, so, consciously or unconsciously, At the beginning of this paper at- will those in authority arrange the partention was called to the different con- ticular curriculum and methods of teachceptions of a law school-one line of ing. If the predominant idea of law is thought emphasizing teaching and anoth- its ethical quality, stress will be laid upon er studying; one stressing the work of it as a manifestation of the present pubthe professor to the neglect of the work lic conscience. If the predominant idea of the student; the other stressing the is its historical development, stress will work of the student to the neglect of the be laid on the present rules as the outwork of the professor. Attention was growth of former precedents. also called to the different views regard- Extreme undue emphasis on the teaching law. Is it a system of general prin- ing side leads to the exclusive lecture ciples, or is it a mass of arbitrary rules? method, eliminating text and case book If it is not strictly a system of princi- alike. Extreme undue emphasis on the ples, are there, nevertheless, fundamental studying side leads to the exclusion of principles which underlie the law and all aid by the teacher further than is infrom which it proceeds, and a knowledge volved in showing the pupil how little of which is indispensable to a correct ap- he really knows and sending him back preciation and application of the law? again to the sources of the law. Neither Again, is the law general, applying ev- of these extremes is tolerable. The miderywhere, or local, applying only in one dle course blends earnest research and jurisdiction? Whether we conceive it careful thought by the pupil with skillto be the one or the other, is it best ful suggestion and illuminating expositaught by this or by that or by the oth- tion by the teacher. Under it the pupil's er method ? Shall lecture or quiz pre- best effort is stimulated and directed by dominate in the classroom exercises ? If the teacher's superior knowledge and lecture, shall it be preceded or followed judgment. The teacher is not an apostle by assignment of text or case? If it be of despair, the principal result of whose quiz, shall it be confined to an effort to work is to stifle hope and so discourage ascertain the diligence and appreciation thought, but an inspiring leader to highof the particular student quizzed, or be er intellectual effort, and more profound so conducted as to develop systematically professional understanding. Instead of the thought covered by the exercise and heaping difficulty upon difficulty by conshow its relations to the lessons which tinued suggestion of unanswered and to have preceded it and those which are to the student unanswerable questions, follow? Shall text-book or casebook be starting in many directions, but going given to the pupil? Shall all the time be nowhere, he meets the student where he given to substantive law, or shall it be is, and by judicious and helpful co-operadivided between substantive and adjec- tion leads him to intellectual heights


where the hope of professional mastery and success dawns bright upon him.

A number of years ago, when I first read some of the discussions on the methods of teaching and the arrangement of curricula, I believed that the differences of view among the several schools, and in a few instances among the different professors in the same school, were fundamental and beyond adjustment. Since that time I have had occasion to look more closely into the actual work of these valiant disputants, and my present opinion is that we differ more in expression than we do in thought, and more in thought than we do in actual classroom work. I have been in the classroom of men who in the heat of argument make declarations which would incline one to believe that it is little less than a crime to give a pupil a text-book, that he must at all times be thrown upon his own resources, and made to develop the law from the original sources by his own unaided effort, and have caught these professors redhanded in the act of making most masterly expositions of a point on which the assigned cases had apparently confused and overwhelmed their pupils. On the other hand, many of the most ardent advocates of lecture and text-book are daily giving tribute to cases as a valuable means of instruction by assigning them to their pupils and insisting on their mastery. The amusing part of the matter is that cach of us commits his particular solecism without apology and seemingly without sense of inconsistency. The truth is none of us, even law professors, •are quite so good as we believe ourselves to be, nor quite so bad as we paint ourselves, when we are trying to frighten "the party of the second part” in an argument regarding our hobbies. So, after all, I have concluded the real differen

ces between us are largely matters of emphasis or relative importance. Some of us put the stress here and some there, each earnestly striving along the lines of his own greatest efficiency to transform the crude and untrained freshman into the capable and effective graduate.

The most important single factor in this process of transformation is an enlightened enthusiasm for the law as the highest human expression of practical justice. He who kindles this enthusiasm most successfully has found the best method of teaching. He who kindles it even fairly and keeps its fires burning with steady glow, though they be not at intensest heat, has found a method too good in his hands to be set aside except for weighty reasons.

Personally I do not think it well for any school to adopt any one method to. the exclusion of all others. Conditions as they exist do not seem to me to justify, much less to force, such an election. The desirable thing is that each professor shall use with each class and in each topic the method best adapted to doing the thing that is then being done.

It altogether conceivable that one teacher


excel in one method of teaching and another in another. It is also conceivable that different methods may be better in different topics and in different classes, and even in the same class in the different stages of its development. The important thing is to get a clear conception of the ends to be accomplished in attempting to teach the law and to press forward toward those ends by the method, which, under all the facts of the particular case, is best calculated to command success.

The primary object of the law school is to train men to be successful and effective lawyers, not moneymakers or skillful practitioners merely, though each


of these is good when achieved honora

The catalogues of many other bly, but profound lawyers, who will do schools show that this method is employhonor to their profession and subserve ed in them. the public good. To take the young man in the professionally crude condition in

Returns from Pupils. which he enters the law school and de- There are many processes involved in velop him into such a lawyer involves teaching; among these, on the one hand, much training along many lines. In its are giving out information by the profinal analysis it is a process of character fessor and affording opportunities by building, the fitting of a man for the him for the student to learn, and, on the exercise of some of the most important other, getting returns from the pupils, and far-reaching functions that pertain showing to what extent they are availing to any profession. It is a process which of and profiting by such instruction and necessarily involves development and opportunity. growth morally, intellectually, and in legal information. May it not be that

Oral Quisses. work with and for and by the same indi- In large classes it is difficult to test vidual should be varied to meet his vary

the students adequately by oral quizzes. ing needs during the various stages of

The number of pupils who may be quizthis gradual growth? It seems not onlyzed satisfactorily in any class period is possible or even probable, but altogether necessarily limited, and the frequency reasonable, that this may be true. If it with which any one pupil shall be subis true, no fixed method of dealing with jected to quiz, if the quizzing be impara student throughout his entire career tially distributed, of course, depends upin the law school can be best. Some on the number of pupils in the class. If amount of adaptation and adjustment is the class is much above 50, it is difficult, inevitable. How much there shall be if not impossible, for the quiz to constiand in what shall consist are different tute a satisfactory test of the work of questions.

any one of the students and its results, In the school with which I have the or to train any student so to stand quizhonor to be connected, from its founda- zing as to be an effective means through tion in 1883 to the present time, the which to develop a subject to the edificacourse has begun and still begins with tion of the class. To select a few stuthe study of text-books. This is kept up dents and quiz them exclusively is obto the practical exclusion of all other jectionable, first, because of the seemingmethods until the end of the first term; ly invidious distinctions made between that is, until Christmas of the student's men who have equal claims upon the first year. At that time, we begin as- teacher and the school, and also because signing a few illustrative and expository it leaves the great mass of students withcases in connection with the text, requir- out the stimulus which is afforded by liaing thorough study of both. As the stu- bility to quiz before the class, and also dent advances in his familiarity with le- deprives them of the benefits which come gal terms and legal processes of thought, from being quizzed. It also subjects this the proportion of cases to text is gradu- large unquizzed majority of the students ally increased so that in his senior year to the temptation of putting off their almost his entire work is done with daily work and trusting to their capacity

« PreviousContinue »