• U.S.

Education: Tyrants v. Lawyers

3 minute read

The nation’s law schools last week wrestled with a tough, ironic case involving themselves. For the first time since the early ’20s they had achieved the blissful condition of finding a job for every graduate. At the same time they faced the fact that they might soon have to go out of business. Harder hit by the draft than any other schools, the law schools were down to a corporal’s guard of students; some had only a sixth of their pre-war enrollment. It looked as if law schools would be the first U.S. educational casualty of the war. Typical cases:

> Harvard, which once (1936) had 1,500 law students, now has 193. Eleven of its 25 teachers, including OCD Director Dean James M. Landis, are in war work. The Law School has canceled the finals of its famed Ames (mock trial) Competition, closed its Legal Aid Bureau, surrendered two of its four buildings to the Army & Navy.

> Yale law enrollment is off from 375 to 105; its swank Gothic law dormitories have largely been taken over by Yale undergraduates.

> At the University of Wisconsin Law School there remain only five of its 13 full-time professors, only 92 of its 400 students; Dean Lloyd Garrison is absent as counsel to the War Labor Board.

> The law enrollments at immense University of Chicago and Columbia University have shrunk to 71 and 195 respectively.

Despite these omens, the law schools are not ready to give up. Most of the 95 members of the Association of American Law Schools echoed Harvard Law School’s Acting Dean Edmund M. Morgan Jr. “The Law School will not close,” he declared last week. “It has come through other wars and it will go through this war. It will continue to function as long as Harvard University continues.” Many a law-school man thinks that the nation can ill afford to abandon legal education even during the war. Cried the president of the Association of American Law Schools, Columbia Professor Elliott Cheatham: “Lawyers are as dangerous and ab horrent to tyrants now as they were when Erskine defended Tom Paine, or Male-sherbes risked and lost his life to defend Louis XVI from the revolutionary tribunal.” In vain law schools have attempted to get army deferments for some of their students, on the grounds that lawyers hold many big jobs in the war effort (notable example: War Secretary Henry Stimson); a law course is good training for military command. Now most of them are resigned to making the best of a bad bargain, namely, small enrollments composed of women*and 4-Fs.

Last week Yale’s hardheaded Law Dean Ashbel Green Gulliver bluntly warned law schools that they would be forced to merge or close. “It’s a hard thing to recommend,” said he, “but I think it is inevitable.”

*But not many women want to be lawyers; Chicago’s Law School had nine women last year, has twelye this year.

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