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Talking About a Revolution

A pop quiz with some surprising answers

This man is credited with shaping American legal education. What other school besides HLS was most immediately affected by his innovation?

Christopher Columbus Langdell LL.B. 1854, dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, revolutionized the teaching of law and had an immediate impact on HLS, but also on Boston University. Famous for introducing the case method and the Socratic approach, Langdell was also responsible for standardizing the curriculum and for introducing rank in class. According to Coquillette, Langdell saw many of his innovations “as a way of creating a legal elite based on merit, rather than power and influence.” And in fact, Langdell’s methods were so shocking at the time, said Coquillette, that there was an exodus of students from Harvard, many of whom fled to the newly founded Boston University Law School.

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