I had the opportunity in August to spend a day at the Litchfield Law School in Litchfield, Connecticut. Although several universities enrolled students in law departments during the final decades of the eighteenth century, almost all lawyers of the period prepared for practice by completing apprenticeships in lawyers’ offices. Attorney and Judge Tapping Reeve thought that education at a formal law school would be a better way for lawyers to prepare, and therefore he founded the Litchfield Law School in 1774.
More than 1,100 students attended the Litchfield Law School before it closed in 1833. Two of Reeve’s students (Aaron Burr and John C. Calhoun) went on to become Vice President. Fifteen of the students became governors. Three of the students became Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Twenty-eight students became United States Senators, and another ninety-seven served in the United States House of Representatives. Clearly, the Litchfield Law School was important in educating and credentialing a significant portion of the era’s most accomplished lawyers. Read more »