In 1833, Timothy Walker, along with Edward King, and Judge John C. Wright of the Ohio Supreme Court, established the Cincinnati Law School, a small law school with 17 students, above a downtown office in a city that was then a frontier outpost. The Cincinnati Law School became a department of the Cincinnati College in 1835, which gave it the authority to confer degrees. Until 1885 Cincinnati was the only law school in Ohio.
In 1896, the University of Cincinnati also established a Law Department and William Howard Taft, then a Federal Circuit Judge, was made Dean. The following year, the Cincinnati College and the University of Cincinnati entered into a contract for a merger, although the final merger with the University did not occur until 1918.
The University of Cincinnati College of Law is the fourth oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Only Harvard, Yale, and the University of Virginia are older. The law school is one of only five American law schools to have produced both a President of the United States (William Howard Taft) and a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (both Taft and Willis Van Devanter).
In honor of our 175th anniversary in 2008, a timeline was installed in the law school building highlighting milestones in our history.
Timothy Walker first published in 1837 the Introduction to American Law, one of the first major publications by a law teacher. Called “the American Blackstone”, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes told Chief Justice Taft that it was Walker’s book that “first gave him an adequate concept of what law was and what was the profession upon which he was entering.”
In the late 1880’s, Dean Jacob D. Cox transformed the school and the larger world of legal education by expanding its course of study from two years to three. The College was also an early adopter of the case method of teaching, still a foundation of legal education today.
For over a century, the law school has been on the leading edge of experiential learning. As early as 1917, students were gaining practical, hands-on experience and skills training by working at a Cincinnati legal aid clinic. In the late 1940s, Robert Marx first offered his “Facts” course, which taught students how to master the elements critical in all trials. A decade later, Irvin Rutter, a renowned scholar and theorist, launched his Applied Skills Program, which became a model for law schools across the nation. In 1979 the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights was established – the first of its kind at an American law school.
To learn more about the College of Law, click one of the links below:
Cincinnati Law School
University of Cincinnati Law Department Formed