Law Library Room To Be Named For Coquillette

Former dean to donate 16th century text

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

The new Law Library's Rare Book Room will be dedicated to Daniel R. Coquillette on Wednesday, May 29, honoring the former dean whose leadership was instrumental in the building's construction.

Coquillette - now a professor on the Law School faculty - will donate a three-volume 16th century legal text from his own collection as part of the dedication ceremony.

"Dan has done immeasurable things for the Law School as a dean and now as a professor," said Law School Dean Aviam Soifer. "He is an outstanding scholar and an exceptional teacher, and is now enhancing the Law School in yet another way with his contribution of this extraordinary addition to our collection that is beautiful in itself and very meaningful in the world of rare books."

Coquillette, who was dean from 1985 to 1993, said he had always envisioned a room in the library that would commemorate the history of the law and American legal education. He also felt that a rare book room should be open to students as a place to study and work. Coquillette said he is pleased that the room has become one of the library's most popular areas and is gratified it will now bear his name.

Prof. Daniel Coquillette (Law) with the three-volume legal book he will donate to the law library. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
"This is a time when the legal profession is facing big challenges," Coquillette said. "There is a crisis in the profession, as lawyers are losing the sense that they're part of something important, and instilling a sense of heritage in the students with a room that symbolizes the dignity in the legal profession is part of giving them the education they need to be leaders of the bar."

Before the new library opened in January, the Law School housed its rare book collection in a locked area neither visible nor accessible to users. Now, the collection is prominently displayed in a room furnished with a fireplace mantel and mirror once used in the White House, a Persian rug and a grandfather clock. The room also features temperature and humidity controls to preserve the materials.

The book Coquillette will donate, Digestorum sev Pandectarum Libri Quinquaginta ex Florentinis Pandectis In Officina Laurentii Torrentini Ducalis Typographi MDLIII , was published in Florence in 1553 and is of critical importance to legal history, he said. It is one of the first great classical texts to make the case for a law of civilized nations, he said, and it strongly influenced the Catholic Church in developing its own canon law system.

"While many historical texts have been reproduced or are available on line, it's something else to pick up a book held in the hands of a lawyer 500 years ago," Coquillette added. "There's nothing like having the book itself, treasured and protected for so many generations of lawyers, to bring home a real sense of tradition."

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