Law Schools/Study of Law •

852 RARE : New Collection: The Albert F. Burt Letters, 1911-1913

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce the opening of a new Modern Manuscript collection, The Albert F. Burt Letters, 1911-1913.

The Albert Burt (Harvard Law School, class of 1914) collection is relatively small by Modern Manuscript standards containing a mere 63 letters and 7 postcards.  But these 70 documents provide unique and invaluable insight into the life of a Harvard Law School student in the early twentieth century. In these letters written to his mother, father and two brothers , Albert writes about everything from the weather and housing, to life in Cambridge and, perhaps most interesting of all, his social and academic life at the Law School.

In one letter, dated October 29, 1911, Burt provides vignettes of faculty members.  He refers to professor Joseph Beale as the “argumentative Prof”  and notes a comment by a fellow student that, “doesn’t the old cuss love to get you to make a fool of yourself?”  Professor Bruce Wyman is described as the “round, roly-poly, jolly, smiling prof” who will, “… do pretty much nearly all of the work if you’ll let him.”

Excerpt of letter dated October 29, 2911. Box 1, folder 10 of the Albert F. Burt Letters.

Excerpt of letter dated October 29, 2911. Box 1, folder 10 of the Albert F. Burt Letters.

Dean Ezra Ripley Thayer is mentioned in a letter to Albert’s brother Howard written in November 1911.  He writes that, “…now it is etiquette in that class not to ask any questions unless you really want to know, because it takes the Dean so long to give a poor answer if he tries it himself and because you doubt whether the answer is trustworthy if he turns the question on the class.”

According to one letter the recently built Langdell Hall appeared to have been something of a novelty to students. In a letter dated October 22, 1911 Burt mentions that, “The whole plan of the institution seems to be that we should do our studying in these places”.   (The other “place” being Austin Hall.)  Encouragement to do so includes the existence of “… a whole staff to get us the books and everything we need in using them…” and that students were “…provided with lockers in the basements…” to store books and other necessary items.

This Albert F. Burt Letters will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of the Law School.  The HOLLIS number is 13846966.  A finding aid is also available. Researchers interested in using the collection should contact Historical & Special Collections and schedule an appointment.

Post contributed by Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts.

852 RARE : Learning at Litchfield Law School

The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce the digitization of its collection of student notebooks from the Litchfield Law School.

The Litchfield Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut is generally considered to have been the first formal law school in the United States. Established in 1784 by Tapping Reeve (1744-1823) the school was in operation for almost 50 years, closing in 1833.  Reeve was the sole lecturer until he hired former student James Gould (1770-1838) in 1798, which was the same year that he became a judge on Connecticut’s Superior Court. The Harvard Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections has 64 volumes of Litchfield student notebooks recorded by 17 students between 1803 and 1825. An example is this page from the notebook of Elisha Whittlesey:

First page of Elisha Whittlesey’s notes on James Gould’s Contracts course in 1813. From HLS MS 4106, vol. 2, Hollis 2143582.

Approximately 1000 men attended Litchfield Law School and many of them went on to significant careers in law, business or education.  Notable students include: Aaron Burr, Levi Woodbury, John Pierce Brace and John C. Calhoun.  (The Litchfield Historical Society has a complete database of students). In addition to the contributions made by many students of the school to the development of the United States, the notebooks provide valuable insight into the development of American common law.  The notebooks can be accessed through the Litchfield Law School Student Notebooks finding aid.

Post contributed by Edwin Moloy, Curator of Modern Manuscripts.

Book Event: In Defense of Women: Memoir of an Unrepentant Advocate

In Defense of Women: Memoir of an Unrepentant Advocate (Beacon Press)
by Nancy Gertner

A panel discussion of women and the law with

Judge Nancy Gertner (Ret.), Professor of Practice, Harvard Law School

Martha Minow, Dean and Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Carol Steiker, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law and Special Adviser for Public Service, Harvard Law School

Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General

Robin Young, National Public Radio (NPR)

In connection with this event, the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender has published 3 reviews of the book.

Tuesday, February 21st, 6:00pm
Austin Hall West 111
Harvard Law School

Refreshments will be available.

Free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Women’s Law Association, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender and the Harvard American Constitution Society

852 RARE: The Weekly Special – One Man’s War

Among the more interesting surprises to emerge among books being moved from a Library storage area recently was a collection of newspaper articles by an escapee from a World War II German prisoner of war camp. The writer was Lucien Roger Lièvre, a former member of the French Army—who also happened to have earned an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School in 1938.

Harvard Law School yearbook, 1938, p. 304

Lièvre's 1938 HLS yearbook photo

It’s unclear where his serial account–written in English under the pseudonym Lucien R.L. Leroy–was published, but it came out while the war was still in progress; the Library acquired it in May 1942. Knowing that adds an immediacy and a poignancy to the now-yellowed newsprint account of deprivations—and ultimately, Lièvre’s escape to freedom.

First page of Lièvre's article.

In and out of a Nazi prison camp. By 1st lieut. Lucien R.L. Leroy of the French Army

"Design for Escape" (as drawn by Lièvre after the escape)

Lièvre's escape route, as drawn by him after the fact.

An Update on the Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace

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A couple of years ago, we posted about an exciting new endeavor called the Peer Reviewed Scholarship Marketplace (“PRSM”). I was wondering how the project was going, so I contacted the PRSM administrator to find out. Mark Ingram and Justin Bagwell, the current and former Administrators, were happy to provide an update on the progress of the endeavor.

Et Seq.: How many faculty do you have serving as reviewers now? Are they mostly from law schools, or do you have people from other disciplines (e.g. to deal with non-law or interdisciplinary scholarship)? Do you have people specifically qualified for empirical studies work?
Mark: As for reviewers, currently we have ~60 reviewers from law schools across the nation who have expressed interest through our website in serving as reviewers. We have 10 reviewers who work in government or private practice, and there are a handful of reviewers from medical schools, as well. Only one of our potential reviewers indicated that his expertise is “quantitative/empirical methods.” We keep a list of all “Reviewer Requests” received through the website, and, of course, we may also contact authorities in a particular field if we are unable to retain an adequate number of qualified reviewers from our list for a particular article.

Et Seq.: What do you think incentivizes reviewers to join? What do you think motivates authors?
Mark: I think reviewers as well as authors are motivated by their support for peer review within legal scholarship. In addition to the “Reviewer Requests” that we receive through the website we also receive “Author Requests” from authors seeking more information about submitting an article to PRSM. These authors usually indicate their willingness to serve as reviewers on this form, as well. Both of the reviewers who reviewed our latest submission expressed their support for PRSM (“PRSM is a great endeavour.”) and their appreciation of our effort to integrate peer review into the article selection process (“I think it is great that you are doing peer review.”).
Justin: I think that reviewers most often join PRSM just out of a desire to contribute to the profession. Reviewers perform a vital function by giving journals guidance in selecting their articles. I think it would be fair to say that they perform a type of “gate keeping” function by commenting on the novelty and substantive quality of the article. I think that an author’s motivation is somewhat different from a reviewer’s. Most often I think authors seek to have their article given a heightened degree of credibility by having their peers comment on it. Also, I think many of the authors that have submitted articles through PRSM have chosen to do so because they recognize the need for a peer review element in legal scholarship. They may see their submissions as a step in the direction that they believe legal scholarship should go.

Et Seq.: How has the author experience been? What is their feedback?
Justin: For the most part, authors have been very complimentary of the peer review process. They have generally been understanding of the extended timeline that is necessary for finding reviewers and completing reviews. All have been grateful for the opportunity to have their articles reviewed. Even when an author has not had their article selected for publication, they have been grateful for the experience and the opportunity to receive feedback.

Et Seq.: Have any of the other member journals (http://www.legalpeerreview.org/members.php) published issues using the service?
Justin: As far as I know, no other journal has published an entire issue using the PRSM service. However, I didn’t have any contact with either the author or the journals after the review process was complete so it is possible that some articles may have been published without my knowledge.
Mark: To my knowledge, our latest submission received offers from some of our members and should appear in one of our member journals soon. It’s up to the member journals whether to indicate that a particular article has been peer reviewed, but keep your eyes peeled for the newest peer-reviewed article in the coming months.

Et Seq.: Do you have any new journals joining?
Mark: Our newest members are Nevada Law Journal and Fordham Law Review, which brings the total number to thirteen. I am currently in contact with new Editors-in-Chief across the nation in an effort to add more members to our consortium. Our long-term goals have always been to add more members and to secure more article submissions.

For those interested in peer review (and other issues) in law reviews, you might want to take a look at a series “law review review” at the PrawfsBlawg. This week, there is an interview with an editor at the Stanford Law Review about its experimentation with peer review.

The Happy Lawyer

In an effort to escape the rain, I recently took a free form browse of the Harvard Coop.

This is where I found an interesting read:

The Happy Lawyer:  Making a Good Life in the Law (2010)

The Happy Lawyer, by Nancy Levit & Douglas O. Linder, offers a mix of pop psychology, insightful  anecdotes and practical tips.

The Happy LawyerThe authors affirm that happiness is relative, and a function of science, personality and social factors.  They then assert that happiness is in tension with itself, given the competing factors that comprise short term happiness, long-term happiness and general steady satisfaction.

The authors next attempt to explain why a lawyer may be unhappy.  Perhaps the profession adversely selects unhappy people (called introverts).  Perhaps the profession adversely selects people whose high expectations and feelings of happiness entitlement are at odds with reality.

Unhappiness in the law may also now arise from changes in the legal market.  For example, the law is becoming more of a business and less of a profession, meaning that lawyers may tend to feel less in control of their work – and thus more unsatisfied.

What to do.  Well, first the authors remind us that the law has its upside:  It’s a noble profession which allows one to make a difference.

Next, the authors exhort law-student- and lawyer- job seekers to consider the following questions:

  • What gives you meaning
  • What gives you pleasure
  • What are your strengths

The book also offers tips to law firms for creating a happier work environment, including redesigning office space to allow for water cooler time.

Finally, the book outlines steps for finding happiness:

  • Find work that interests you
  • Align your work with your values
  • Balance your work and the rest of your life
  • Deepen workplace relationships
  • Savor the small pleasures

This book is a great read for folks considering law school, law students, current lawyers and pop-psychology hobbyists.

Introducing LATCamp

Interested in using technology to ease the pain of creating end-of-semester outlines?  Want to share library resources with law students and professors in a completely new way?  Looking for a way to finally illustrate a case in class through the use of technology?  Or are you just plain curious about the intersection of legal information and technology?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should come to LATCamp!

LATCamp (Law and Technology Camp) is a one-day unconference hosted by the Harvard Law School on May 16.  We welcome everyone who is involved with legal education throughout New England – students, professors, librarians, technologists.  It promises to be an exciting day of lively discussions, brainstorming, and forming new ideas.  See the About page for more information.

Applying to LATCamp couldn’t be easier!  Just fill out the registration form with a little bit of information about yourself and why you want to come to LATCamp.  Applications are due by April 18, 2011, and all participants will be notified by April 25 of their acceptance.  Due to space constraints, we will be capping attendance at 75.

Once you’re accepted, you are encouraged to submit session proposals and to comment on others.  Lively discussions before the day begins help to shape the discussion topics and to set the participatory tone for the day.  You can also sign up for a Dork Short!  Dork Shorts are 2-minute mini-presentations on projects you may be working on.  They are presented before the whole group, and you can show off a web-based project, or just get up and talk, prop-free.

Thinking about becoming a law professor?

Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate's Guide Last August, we posted about a forthcoming book with advice for those interested in entering legal academia. Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide is now available for loan. It provides a brief, (at times anectodal) guide to the process of entering the market for a law faculty position. Topics include preparing for the AALS hiring conference, tips for teaching and publishing in law reviews. You might want to check it out if you are considering going into academia.

West Offering Casebook Rentals

It looks like West is offering casebook rentals to students. The service includes electronic access during the rental period, although it does not work on Kindles, iPads, etc.. See the FAQ’s for more details. (Thanks to @richards1000 and @lawschooltech for the tip!)

Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide

The authors of the forthcoming Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate’s Guide (ABA 2010) recently posted their Table of Contents and Introduction to SSRN. Larry Solum (University of Illinois College of Law) also posted his Foreward to the book, New Realities of the Legal Academy. Check out comments made by Jeff Lipshaw (Cumberland School of Law)(one of the book’s authors) at the Legal Profession Blog.

We will post about the new book once the library receives a copy!