This afternoon in Eisenberg Hall, three distinguished scholars kicked off the first installment of the Centennial Symposia celebrating the 100th anniversary of Marquette University’s acquisition of the Milwaukee Law School and the Milwaukee University Law School. (A podcast is here.) This session, entitled “The Origins of Marquette University Law School,” featured Joseph A. Ranney, a legal historian, shareholder in DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C., and adjunct professor at the Law School; Professor J. Gordon Hylton of the Law School (who is organizing the symposia); and Dr. Thomas J. Jablonsky, the Harry G. John Professor of Urban Studies at Marquette.
After some brief words of welcome from Dean Kearney, Mr. Ranney started the event by contextualizing the birth of Marquette University Law School with a description of legal education and practice at the turn of the 20th century. Mr. Ranney’s description of the legal world in 1908 emphasized the modernization of various areas of the law, including tort law and civil procedure. Professor Hylton then explained how the Milwaukee Law School came to being and how it operated prior to being acquired by Marquette. His account also demonstrates how far legal education has come in the past 100 years: The Milwaukee Law School was an entirely evening program — taught solely by practitioners — and did not require students to have an undergraduate, or even high school, degree, before they finished their legal training. Finally, Dr. Jablonsky explained the financial and political dynamics of Marquette’s acquisition of the Milwaukee Law School. He also noted that the acquisition coincided with Marquette’s maturation process as an institution of higher learning.
If the first session of the Centennial Symposia is any indication, the next five should be engaging and well worth attending. For those interested, the next installment will be on Tuesday, September 23rd at 4:30 p.m. at the Law School.