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School of Law records

 Collection
Identifier: A006

Scope and Content Note

The records of Northeastern University School of Law consist of approximately nine cubic feet of material documenting the institution's administrative and educational activities from 1900 to 1998.  Because the collection lacked discernible order when it was received, the records were arranged into seven series, five of which parallel the School of Law's current administrative structure: (1) Early History, 1900-1922, (2) Office of the Dean, (3) Development/Alumni(ae) Relations, (4) Admissions, (5) Cooperative Education (6) Placement/Career Services, and (7) Publications. 

Material on the evolution of the School of Law from a series of evening courses sponsored by the Boston YMCA into a formal program of legal education can be found in Series I. Early History, 1900-1922, which contains material from the School of Law before Northeastern University was established.  Of special interest are two handwritten, bound volumes of minutes from annual and faculty meetings, documenting the early formation of the academic program, faculty appointments, activities, and policies of the School (Box 1, Folders 1, 9).

     

Also of interest are two questionnaires (Boxes 1-2, Folders 11-14) completed by the School of Law in 1942 and 1977.  These questionnaires were required by the American Bar Association (ABA) for accreditation purposes and document the School's evolution. The School also completed two reports to the State of New York Court of Appeals, providing evidence of compliance with ABA standards and defending its cooperative education system (Box 2, Folders 16-17; Box 27, Folders 1-3).  In addition, the American Association of Law Schools' reports on the School of Law's program can be found in Box 2, Folders 18-19.  

The collection holds some information on the closing of the School of Law, such as the official statement issued by President Ell and the Board of Trustees on the decision to discontinue the law program (Box 2, Folder 21). The formal announcement issued by the Board of Trustees on the resurrection of the School of Law can be found in Box 20, Folder 439.  Other materials on the reopening of the School of Law can be found in Series II. Office of the Dean (Box 2, Folder 47) and in Series III. Development/Alumni(ae) Relations (Box 20, Folder 439).  Of particular interest is an article written by Thomas J. O'Toole, Dean of the School of Law from 1967-1971, and published in the "American Bar Association Journal" in 1968 (Box 3, Folder 43) describing the innovative cooperative education plan and the mission of the School. 

The collection contains minimal correspondence of the deans of the School of Law.  The existing correspondence, however, documents academic activities of the School.  Of particular interest is correspondence with President Knowles, the University's Cooperative Education Department, and the Office of University Development, which reflects the School's early attempts to recruit employer participation in the cooperative education program (Box 20, Folder 450).  Additional information about the cooperative education program can be found in the publication "School of Law: The Nation's First on the Coop Plan" (Box 4, Folder 53), which describes the School's innovative plan to implement professional work experience into its law program.

Series III. Development/Alumni(ae) Relations contains the records of the Law Alumni Association (LAA).  These records document the LAA's intricate relationship with several University offices and groups, including the Alumni Office, Office of Development, and Alumni Council.  The bulk of the LAA's records falls between the dates of 1940-1970 and reveals the association's active role in fund raising and in special alumni events and activities.  Records of events and activities, such as the Annual Dinner, Annual Meeting, and Alumni(ae) Day can be found in Boxes 16-20, Folders 346-355, 361-380, 387, 395-397, 428-436, and they include invitations, programs, agendas, recognition awards, and attendance sheets. Of special interest are the records of the LAA and the Office of University Development on the fund-raising drive to reopen the School of Law (Boxes 20-21, 25, Folders 454-456, 572-573).  Also of interest is the constitution of the LAA which is located in Box 16, Folder 360 and outlines the organization's mission and structure.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection was written and received by various officers of the LAA, concerning member dues, pledge drives, voting ballots, upcoming events and assigned tasks.  Most of this correspondence is located in various subject files, such as Annual Activities, Notices and Bulletins, Memberships, and Correspondence (Boxes 16-20, Folders 346-355, 361-380, 387, 395-397, 428-436). 

The LAA also kept records on its alumni, documenting address changes, employment positions, and gift prospects (Box 18, Folders 395-397).  Some of the information was recorded on 3 x 5 index cards (Box 18, Folders 389-391).  In addition, the Association documented its activities in minutes from meetings of its various committees, such as the Executive Committee, Planning Committee and Campaign Committee (Boxes 16-20, Folders 346-355, 361-365, 428-436).  The Executive Committee was the governing body which decided and implemented policies; the Planning Committee arranged events and activities; the Campaign Committee managed fund-raising drives.  

The School of Law sponsored various student publications, such as the first female law student newspaper, "Pro:Se" (Box 4, Folder 69) and the official student newsletter, "WE Weekly" (Boxes 4-15, Folders 70-331).  The purpose of "Pro:Se" was to maintain communication and sisterhood of female law students around the country and to give coverage to events and projects that concerned women's struggles for equality and humanity. "WE Weekly" began as a report concerning schedules of committee meetings, courses, and activities; it eventually expanded to a newsletter that informed students, especially those on coop assignment, of news and events of the School of Law.  While the collection holds only one issue of "Pro:Se," "WE Newsletter" is almost a complete from its establishment in 1972 through 1995; a few issues in 1973, 1975, 1986, 1987, and 1995 are missing.  In addition, the collection contains the newsletter, "NewsBriefs" (Boxes 18-19, Folders 400-427), which is distributed to alumni/ae and friends of the School of Law and reports news about alumni/ae and development programs and activities (“NewsBriefs” published after Spring 1994 are held in the NU Publications collection). 

Series V. Admissions contains course catalogs of the School from 1941-1996, with some gaps (Boxes 21-22, 25, Folders 463-480, 558-560).

Series VI. Placement/Career Services contains material that reveals the office's relationship with the LAA and Alumni(ae) Relations Department.  The Placement/Career Services department helped organized and arranged alumni events and activities, such as lectures, parties, and trips (Box 22, Folders 487-495).

Dates

  • 1900-1998

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

Records are closed for 25 years from the date of their creation unless researchers have written permission from the creating office.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Historical Note

Northeastern University School of Law, the first evening law program in Boston, was founded in 1898 as a series of evening courses offered by the Boston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).  These courses were introduced by Frank Palmer Speare, the Educational Director of the Evening Institute of the Boston YMCA, and later, the first president of Northeastern University. He recognized the need for a program in legal education for working men who were unable to attend the day classes offered by Harvard and Boston Universities.  In 1904, the program was incorporated as the Evening School of Law of the Boston YMCA with the power to grant the Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. Speare was appointed the School's first dean.

The primary goal of the program was to prepare students for the Massachusetts Bar Examination.  The Evening School of Law, which attracted students who worked during the day and who could not afford tuition to other law schools, offered 200 hours of instruction, combining lectures and the case study method.  Completion of the law program required four years of study rather than the three years required at law schools with daytime programs.  The first teaching staff consisted of five men who taught courses on pleading, property, criminal law, contracts, and torts.

After its incorporation, the Evening School of Law underwent several significant changes.  In 1922, the first women law students were admitted into the program; in the same year, the school was renamed Northeastern University School of Law, and because of the increase in student enrollment divisional campuses of the School of Law were established in Worcester and Springfield in 1917 and in Providence in 1920.  In 1938, day courses were implemented into the law program, and the School moved from its building on 312 Huntington Avenue to 47 Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill.  The School of Law became accredited by the University of the State of New York in 1943 and was awarded membership in the American Association of Law Schools in 1945.

In the early 1950s, the School of Law faced financial hardship and declining student enrollment while similar law programs became available at other local universities.  In addition, as an evening law school with a small day division, the School had difficulties meeting the standards set forth by the accrediting bodies of the legal profession.  In 1953, the Board of Trustees of Northeastern University decided to close the School of Law, shifting its educational efforts and financial expenditures to other academic programs.

In the mid-1960s, the Law Alumni Association (LAA), which had been established in 1924 to promote the School of Law's program and to provide networking opportunities for its alumni, urged the reopening of the School of Law.  Asa S. Knowles, Northeastern's third president, established a committee to explore the possibility of reopening the School of Law, and in 1965 Northeastern's Board of Trustees approved the committee's proposal with several conditions.  First, the School must strive for the highest standards in its curriculum, students, and teaching staff.  Second, the School must feature a cooperative education program, which had become an important characteristic of Northeastern.  Finally, sufficient funds needed to be raised to insure appropriate facilities. The LAA, which assumed the fund-raising task, raised more than $500,000 in a year and a half.  On May 13, 1966, the Board of Trustees officially announced the reopening of the School of Law which became the first law school in the country to operate on the cooperative education model.  In 1968, the School moved from its temporary location at 102-4 The Fenway to its present home at 400 Huntington Avenue.

In contrast to its predecessor, the new School of Law began as a four-year, daytime graduate program that awarded the Juris Doctor (JD) degree.  The School's transition from the LLB degree to the JD degree reflected the changes in the level of education required to practice law.  In 1970, the School of Law's program was reduced to three years and two summer quarters with rotating cooperative educational studies.  In 1971, the School received full accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA) but encountered problems in the State of New York, which was reluctant to accept "co-op" experience in lieu of classroom work.  The School eventually secured approval from the State of New York Court of Appeals by submitting reports of compliance with ABA standards in 1973 and 1974.

Since its inception in 1898 and resurrection in 1968, Northeastern University School of Law has been recognized for its emphasis on public interest law, supporting the needs of the community by training future attorneys to practice law in the public sector.  To further this emphasis, in 1981 the Law, Policy, and Society (LPS) post-doctoral program was established.  This interdisciplinary program concentrates on legal-social issues and attracts students interested in social policy careers. Faculty for the Law, Policy, and Society program includes instructors from Northeastern's College of Arts and Sciences, School of Criminal Law, and School of Law.  In addition, in 1987 the Fund for Public Interest was established; the Fund defrays, defers, or forgives tuition costs of students who plan on a career in public interest law.  

In the early 1990s, a 20% increase in enrollment enabled the School of Law to receive funding for the hiring of a diverse group of new faculty who brought new perspectives and helped introduce new programs. In particular, the school launched initiatives seeking to improve urban life through the practice of law. The Domestic Violence Advocacy Project, later renamed the Domestic Violence Institute, was launched in 1991 and received important federal grants in 1992, 1994, and 1997. In the 1990s, the school also increased its focus on international law, government regulation, labor law, and legal aspects of artificial intelligence. In 1995 the School of Law's Tobacco Control Resource Center received a large grant to assist it in devising new strategies for limiting tobacco use through legal action.

In the 1990s, increased enrollment at the School of Law led to improvements in the school's physical plant. After the College of Criminal Justice relocated to Churchill Hall, the School of Law was able to occupy all of the Knowles building, and in 1995 a number of the school's clinics were relocated to the new Columbus Place building. The 1990s also saw the renovation and enlargement of the school's library building.

Chronology

  • 1898-1904 Frank Palmer Speare, Director
  • 1904-1918 Frank Palmer Speare, Dean
  • 1918-1920 Bruce W. Belmore, Executive Secretary
  • 1920-1935 Everett A. Churchill, Dean
  • 1935-1936 Sydney Kenneth Schofield, Acting Dean
  • 1936-1945 Sydney Kenneth Schofield, Dean
  • 1945-1947 Stuart M. Wright, Dean
  • 1947-1953 Lowell S. Nicholson, Dean
  • 1953-1955 Joseph O. Crane, Dean
  • 1967-1971 Thomas J. O'Toole, Dean
  • 1971-1972 Philip C. Boyd, Acting Dean
  • 1972-1977 John C. O'Byrne, Dean
  • 1977-1979 Robert W. Hallgring, Acting Dean
  • 1979-1984 Michael C. Meltsner, Dean
  • 1984-1993 Daniel J. Givelber, Dean
  • 1993-1998 David Hall, Dean
  • 1998- Daniel J. Givelber, Acting Dean
1898-1904
Frank Palmer Speare, Director
1904-1918
Frank Palmer Speare, Dean
1918-1920
Bruce W. Belmore, Executive Secretary
1920-1935
Everett A. Churchill, Dean
1935-1936
Sydney Kenneth Schofield, Acting Dean
1936-1945
Sydney Kenneth Schofield, Dean
1945-1947
Stuart M. Wright, Dean
1947-1953
Lowell S. Nicholson, Dean
1953-1955
Joseph O. Crane, Dean
1967-1971
Thomas J. O'Toole, Dean
1971-1972
Philip C. Boyd, Acting Dean
1972-1977
John C. O'Byrne, Dean
1977-1979
Robert W. Hallgring, Acting Dean
1979-1984
Michael C. Meltsner, Dean
1984-1993
Daniel J. Givelber, Dean
1993-1998
David Hall, Dean
1998-
Daniel J. Givelber, Acting Dean

Extent

9.05 cubic feet (27 containers)

Overview

The Northeastern University (NU) School of Law is recognized for training attorneys to practice law in the public sector. Founded by the Boston Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in 1898 as a series of evening courses, it was the first evening law program in Boston. In 1904, the program was incorporated as the Evening School of Law of the Boston YMCA with the power to grant the Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. Its primary goal was to prepare students for the Massachusetts Bar Examination. Because of increasing enrollment, divisional campuses were established in Worcester and Springfield in 1917 and in Providence in 1920. In 1922 it was renamed the NU School of Law; in the same year women were admitted for the first time. In 1938 it began to offer day courses. In the early 1950s, the School of Law faced financial hardship and declining enrollment and closed in 1953. With the urging of NU's Law Alumni Association it reopened on May 13, 1966, becoming the first law school in the country to operate on the cooperative education model. In contrast to its predecessor, the new School of Law began as a four-year, daytime graduate program that awarded the Juris Doctor (JD) degree.  The School's transition from the LLB degree to the JD degree reflected the changes in the level of education required to practice law.  In 1970, the School of Law's program was reduced to three years and two summer quarters with rotating cooperative educational studies.  In 1971, the School received full accreditation from the American Bar Association.

Overview

The records of the Northeastern University School of Law (A6) document the institution's administrative and educational activities from 1900 to 1998. The collection includes material on the evolution of the School of Law from a series of evening courses sponsored by the Boston YMCA into a formal program of legal education. The collection also contains some information on the closing of the School of Law in 1953. Also included are the records of the Law Alumni Association, development and fund-raising records, student newspapers and newsletters, admissions catalogs and brochures, facebooks, cooperative education handbooks, and placement and career services information. Researchers should note that there is some chronological overlap between this collection and the School of Law records (A44), 1960-2011.

System of Arrangement:

The collection is arranged into seven series: 1. Early History; 2. Office of the Dean; 3. Development/Alumni(ae) Relations; 4. Admissions; 5. Cooperative Education; 6. Placement/Career Services; and 7. Publications.

Physical Location

22/4, 23/1

Bibliography

  • Frederick, Antoinette. "Northeastern University: An Emerging Giant: 1959-1975." Boston: Northeastern University Custom Book Program, c1982.  CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22F7X (available in the Archives and general collection).
  • Frederick, Antoinette. "Northeastern University, Coming of Age: The Ryder Years, 1975-1989." Boston: Northeastern University, c1995. CALL NUMBER: 4011.N22F732 (available in the Archives and general collection).
  • Marston, Everett C. Origin and Development of Northeastern, 1898-1960. Boston: Northeastern University Press, c.1961. CALL NUMBER: LD4011.N22M3
  • School of Law: The Nation's First on the Coop Plan. (Box 4, Folder 53)
Title
Finding aid for the School of Law Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Michelle Lee
Date
February 1996; updated by Abigail Cramer, December 2011.
Language of description
Description Is In English

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US