A Snapshot of the Marquette Law School in 1967

marqunBarron’s Educational Series, a leading publisher of college guides, published its first “Guide to Law Schools” in 1967.  Its profile of Marquette, one of the then 133 ABA accredited law schools, provides a picture of a law school that differs from its modern counterpart in a number of ways.  The information below was provided to Barron’s by Dean Robert H. Boden.

Size and Structure:  The school offered only a 3-year Day Division program, and the total enrollment at the school was only  260 students.

Make-up of the Student Body: Women made up only 3% of the student body—eight students. (While this was below the national average, significantly less than 10% of all law students in the mid-1960’s were female.)  Three quarters of the student body was from Wisconsin.

Faculty: The faculty consisted of 10 full-time and seven part-time instructors.  Dean Boden was in his second year as dean.  Members of the faculty included current emeritus professors Jim Ghiardi and Ray Klitzke, and Wally McBain, who passed away last year.

Library: The current law library had not yet been constructed, and the library was housed on the third floor of Sensenbrenner Hall.  Holdings totaled 54,000 volumes.

Tuition:  Tuition was $1150 per year, or $40 per credit hour.

Admissions Standards:  Applicants had only to have completed three years of college.  Would-be students were required to take the LSAT, but the school reported that primary emphasis was placed on college grades.  Fifty percent of applicants were accepted, and applicants who ranked in the top 40% of their college classes were likely to secure admission.  While applicants were encouraged to apply for admission for the fall semester, admission in the middle of the year was possible.

Placement:  There was no placement director, but a member of the full-time faculty supervised a “Placement Bureau,” which assisted students in obtaining post-law school employment.  The law school and the student bar association also published an annual “placement digest,” which contained photographs and profiles of all graduating students.  The document was distributed to law firms in the Midwest.

Degree Awarded:  The law school awarded the degree of LL.B. (bachelor of laws) to its graduates.  However, Barron’s reported that the school was considering switching the title of its degree to J.D.  (There was a national movement in the 1960’s from the LL.B. to the J.D.)  The Marquette degree qualified its holders for automatic admission to the Wisconsin Bar under the diploma privilege, as it had since 1933.  At this time, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules required only a law degree from Marquette or the University of Wisconsin and did not stipulate any specific courses as a prerequisite for admission.

Required Courses:  Ninety credits were required for graduation.  In addition to the traditional first year courses, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Legal Bibliography, Property, and Torts, students were required to take Advanced Contracts, Agency and Partnership, Appellate Practice, Business Organizations, Ethics, Evidence, Federal Income Taxation, Introduction to Law, Jurisprudence, Sales, Trial Practice, Trusts and Estates, and one of Administrative Law, Labor Law, or Trade Regulations.  Moot Court participation was also mandatory.  Grades were numerical.

Financial Aid.  There were 32 full-time scholarships available each year, but this appears to have been the extent of financial aid.  Only 12-15% of the student body received financial assistance.

Legal Fraternites:  Chapters of Delta Theta Phi, Phi Alpha Delta, and Phi Delta Phi were active at the law school and appear to have played an important role in student life.

The Barron’s guide classified law schools as either “national,” “regional,” or “state.”  These classifications were based on the origins of a school’s student body and the focus of its curriculum.  Marquette was classified as a “regional” law school.  By way of contrast, the University of Wisconsin was a “national” law school, while DePaul, Loyola of Chicago, and Chicago-Kent were “state” law schools.

The guide also sought to classify schools as “most selective,” “highly selective,” “selective,” and “varying standards.”  Marquette fell into the latter category, but it appears that the guide relied on ambiguous, non-statistical information supplied by the school’s themselves to make these determinations.  Marquette’s ranking may also have been affected by the fact that it did not require its students to have earned undergraduate degrees, although by 1967 virtually all did.

Continue ReadingA Snapshot of the Marquette Law School in 1967

Giant of the Law Received His Legal Training at Marquette

By the time he enrolled in Marquette Law School in 1942, Clifford Thompson had already lived a remarkable life. Reputedly 8 feet, 7 inches tall, Thompson had become internationally famous as a circus performer and Hollywood actor, but he had also spent much of his life as a dairy farmer and a travelling spokesman for Milwaukee’s Blatz Beer. He also liked skiing and basketball.

In spite of his remarkable height, he managed to live a surprisingly normal life. Twice married to women more than three feet shorter than he, Thompson decided to become a lawyer in his late 30’s. He completed the law course at Marquette in two years, graduating as a member of the war-time Class of 1944. He subsequently practiced law in Wisconsin, California, and Oregon.

A detailed account of his life and times, including photographs, can be found here.


Continue ReadingGiant of the Law Received His Legal Training at Marquette

Have Historians Ignored The Real Founder Of Marquette University? The Legacy Of Dr. W. J. Cronyn

Dr.  William Jerome Cronyn is a forgotten figure in the history of Marquette University.  Neither Professor Jablonsky nor Father Hamilton mentions him in their histories of the university.  However, the case can be made that it was Dr. Cronyn, a professor at the Milwaukee Medical College and a former student at the Milwaukee Law School, who first publicly advanced the idea of converting Marquette College into a full-fledged university containing both a medical school and a law school.

During the early years of the twentieth century, the independent Milwaukee Law School celebrated the end of each academic year with a banquet.  The featured speaker at the June 1906 banquet was Dr. Cronyn.  According to a story in the June 28, 1906, Stevens Point Daily Journal, in his remarks at the dinner, Cronyn “suggested the organization of a ‘Milwaukee University’ to be brought about through the consolidation of the Milwaukee College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Milwaukee Medical college, Marquette college and the Milwaukee Law school.”  Such a consolidation, would, Cronyn maintained, be “along the line of development for a Greater Milwaukee.”  According to the Daily Journal, which was covering the address primarily because Cronyn’s wife was a member of the prominent Gate family of Stevens Point, Cronyn’s  remarks “were received with enthusiastic applause.”

The law school banquet was not the first time that Cronyn had advanced the idea of the merger of Marquette College with Milwaukee’s independent professional schools.

On June 1, he had also been the after dinner speaker at the commencement banquet of the Milwaukee Medical College, and during his remarks there, he called for the union of the Medical College with the city’s Catholic college.  The proposal was reportedly met with great applause in this venue as well.

Cronyn’s remarks at the annual dinner of the Milwaukee Law School came exactly one week after Marquette College had celebrated its “Silver Jubilee.”  The three-day anniversary event had honored the creation of Marquette in 1881 and its subsequent accomplishments, but there was apparently no mention at the event of any plans to expand the college into a university.  At that point, the primary emphasis was on the building of a new college structure (which turned out to be Johnston Hall).

In his Milwaukee’s Jesuit University: Marquette, 1881-1991 (2007), Professor Thomas Jablonsky sets out the sequence by which Marquette College became Marquette University.  In the spring of 1906, a few months before Cronyn’s call for a new “Milwaukee University,” Dr. William H. Earles, president and owner of the Milwaukee Medical College, whose faculty included Dr. Cronyn, met with Marquette College president Alexander Burrows, S. J., to discuss the possibility of some form of collaboration between the two institutions.  Burrows appeared uninterested at the time, and nothing came directly from this meeting.

However, by early 1907, President Burrows attitude had changed, possibly because of the positive reaction to Cronyn’s proposals.  In May, the college and the medical school agreed to affiliate under the name of Marquette University.

Once the medical school merger was complete discussions began between Marquette and the Milwaukee Law School.  It initially looked like this second merger might occur in time for the 1907-08 academic year, but disagreement over the price that Marquette would pay for the law school’s assets (which were largely intangible) delayed the merger until the spring of 1908.  Before the 1908 academic year began, Marquette also purchased the small Milwaukee University Law School.

While Cronyn ,of course, cannot be said to be solely responsible for the mergers that led to the creation of Marquette University, his remarks at the two June 1906 banquets and the developments that followed suggest that he played an important part in the school’s transition from college to university, and a part that has rarely been acknowledged.

Cronyn’s personal story is a fascinating one, separate and apart from his connection to Marquette.  He was born in Ontario, Canada on November 15, 1849, and educated in Roman Catholic schools.  He emigrated to the United States in 1864 at age 15 to enlist in the 30th Michigan Infantry in which he served until the end of the Civil War.  After the war he studied medicine in upstate New York, receiving his medical degree in 1870 from the University of Buffalo.  He became a United States citizen and practiced medicine in Chautauqua County, New York until 1893, except for the years 1873 to 1876 when he served as a physician in the United States Navy.  He moved to Milwaukee in the summer of 1893, after marrying Levara C. Cate, the daughter of George W. Cate, a prominent Wisconsin judge.

In addition to his work as a physician and medical educator, Cronyn was very active in the Grand Army of the Republic and served in the Wisconsin National Guard as a surgeon and later as a military adviser to the governor of Wisconsin.  He also found time to study law at the Milwaukee Law School, and in 1903, he joined the faculty of the Milwaukee Medical College, teaching classes on medical jurisprudence, forensic medicine, military hygiene, and medical ethics.  He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Boy Scouts in the Milwaukee area and a 32nd degree Mason.  He was also a constant presence at military reunions and ceremonies and was the last Civil War veteran to serve as an active member of the Wisconsin National Guard.

Cronyn’s role in the merger of the Milwaukee Law School into Marquette University may also explain the decision to award him an honorary bachelor of laws degree at the 1908 Marquette commencement, the first after the announcement of the acquisition of the Milwaukee Law School by Marquette.  At the 1908 commencement, apparently as part of the merger agreement, all former students of the Milwaukee Law School who had been admitted to the Wisconsin bar were awarded Marquette law degrees.  (The Milwaukee Law School itself had had no degree-granting authority, but bar admission in that era did not require graduation from a law school.)

In the commencement program, Cronyn was not listed with those receiving a regular law degree—he may not have been eligible as there is no evidence that he ever attempted to practice law or secured admission to the bar—but his name appeared on the more celebrated list of those receiving honorary degrees.

Cronyn was also listed as a member of the original Marquette law faculty in 1908-09.  The only course he taught at the law school was Medical Jurisprudence, a course described in the law school bulletin as embracing “the rights, duties and responsibilities growing out of the relation of the physician to his patient and the community, and includes the subject of expert testimony in medico-legal cases.”  Medical Jurisprudence was an elective course for senior (third year) law students.  Under the original law school curriculum there were four elective courses, of which students in their final year had to take at least one, but not more than two.

Apparently Medical Jurisprudence was not a popular elective and after a couple of years, the course was reduced to single lecture delivered annually by Cronyn.  By 1915, Cronyn’s name no longer appeared in the law school catalog, but he continued to teach at the Marquette Medical School until just before his death on Feb. 23, 1918 in Milwaukee.

Cronyn’s enthusiasm for the new Marquette University was not limited to the law and medical colleges.  He was, for example, the speaker at the 1908 Marquette football banquet.  During his remarks, he not only praised the efforts of the school’s gridiron contingent (which included players from the law and medical schools), but he also called for the new university to enter a team in the crew competitions on the Hudson River in New York.  According to a report in the December 6, 1908 New York Times Cronyn pledged to personally raise the necessary money if the University would take up “aquatic” sports.

William George Bruce’s History of Milwaukee, City and County (1922) is one of the few published works to credit Cronyn with a central role in the creation of Marquette University.  The book also contains a magnificent photograph of Dr. Cronyn decked out in his Wisconsin military regalia.  It would be a fitting tribute to the law school’s forgotten “founder” to have a copy of that photograph displayed in Eckstein Hall.

Continue ReadingHave Historians Ignored The Real Founder Of Marquette University? The Legacy Of Dr. W. J. Cronyn