Legal Actions
A chronology of the University of Chicago Law School

The Law School’s annual budget totals $38,300—including $30,300 for faculty salaries. The school’s library has 18,000 books—and a librarian whose annual salary is $900. Tuition is $150 per year (three quarters) and does not increase until 1920, to $195 per year.

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The Law School is the first in the nation to offer the J.D. degree (since 1906 those initials have stood not for Doctor of Jurisprudence but rather Doctor of Law).

Change of venue: after one year in the University Press Building (now the bookstore) the school moves to Stuart Hall on the main quadrangle.

IMAGE:  Just Cause1904
James Parker Hall is named dean, taking over from Joseph Henry Beale after the latter returned to Harvard. Hall remains dean until 1929—setting a school record for longevity in the post.

IMAGE:  Just CauseSophonisba Breckinridge is the school’s first woman graduate. “My record there was not distinguished,” Breckinridge later wrote in her autobiography, “but the faculty and students were kind, and the fact that the law school, like the rest of the University…accepted men and women students on equal terms was publicly settled.”

The Moot Court program begins.

World War I calls students from the classroom. Spring quarter enrollment drops to 105 students, down from 247 in spring 1917. By fall the Law School has only 46 students.

Earl Dickerson—who enrolled in 1915 but had his education interrupted by World War I—is the Law School’s the first black graduate.

At spring convocation diplomas are issued with student names in English rather than Latin. Students had been lobbying for the switch since 1912.

Aaron Director and Henry Simons offer the Law School’s first courses in economics. Six years later the law and economics program began.

Volume 1 of the University of Chicago Law Review appears; the journal has been in continuous publication ever since. This continuity was almost interrupted during World War II, when the faculty assumed the journal’s management for two years.

IMAGE:  Just Cause1936
Edward H. Levi, PhB’32, JD’35—the man who would be Law School dean (1950–62) and University president (1968–75)—joins the faculty as an assistant professor and librarian. His combined salary for the two positions is $3,000.

The University of Chicago Legal Aid Group—predecessor to the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, which officially opened in 1957—offers legal-aid services at the University’s Settlement House.

Soia Mentschikoff becomes the first woman on the Law School faculty. Mentschikoff later served as the first female president of the Association of American Law Schools.

The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), established in 1948, becomes a mandatory requirement for admission to Chicago’s law school.

The new law building, designed by Eero Saarinen, opens. Vice President Richard M. Nixon presided at the dedication. In 1966 the quadrangle was named in memory of Laird Bell, JD’07.

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The story goes that when Harold Green, PhB’27, JD’28, visited the new building’s Green Lounge he found a student poring over his law books. “I'm Harold Green,” the donor announced, “and I built this room not for studying but for playing. If you want to study, go use the library.”

IMAGE:  Just Cause1963
The first Wally Blum Tie Contest is held. An expert on tax law, Walter J. Blum, AB’39, JD’41, taught at the University for 42 years and was known for his outrageous ties.

Average starting salary for Chicago area firms with more than 50 attorneys interviewing at the Law School is about $15,000.

Students perform the first Law School musical, Lawyers in Love. Over the years other titles in the annual series have included Return of the JD (1985), Wizard of Laws (1992), Damn Lawyers (1995), and Jill and Fred’s Centennial Adventure (2003).

The D’Angelo Law Library exceeds 500,000 volumes.

Ronald Coase receives the Nobel Prize in Economics—the first member of any law school faculty to win this award.

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All Law students are required to own laptops. All exams are given on computers.

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Saul Levmore is appointed the Law School’s 11th dean.

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