Exhibit Traces History of US Legal Education

Exhibit Traces History of US Legal Education

An exhibit tracing 200 years of American legal education through the class notes of law students is on display at the Law Library through Dec. 10.

The exhibit, "Notable Notes," contains the classroom jottings of Supreme Court justices Thurgood Marshall and Felix Frankfurter, according to Legal Reference Librarian Karen Beck. The teaching style of Louis Brandeis, another Supreme Court justice, is reflected in the notes of one of his students, Beck added. The exhibit also contains a trove of notes taken by students at Litchfield Law School in Connecticut, the nation's first school of law.

Many of the notes from these and other sources contain doodles, calligraphy, poetry and other marginalia that reveal much about the teaching styles of the professors, Beck said.

In all, there are 20 sets of student notes in the exhibit, as well as about 15 complementary items, such as books commonly studied by 19th century law students and legal texts written by famous law professors and students.

The exhibit is the byproduct of a research project Beck completed recently. "It tells you a lot about legal education in this country," Beck said. "It tells you what's changed in American law classrooms and what hasn't changed."

The exhibit is on display in the library's Coquillette Rare Book Room weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

-Michael Seele

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