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Cornerstones Campaign - History

The College's proud history of innovation begins in 1833, above the downtown Cincinnati law office of Timothy Walker--a New Englander who had recently settled in what was then an outpost on the western frontier. Walker realized that to grow and prosper, his adopted city would need lawyers. He launched his school to produce them.

Walker's frontier law school succeeded far beyond its founder's dreams. The College soon established itself as a critical resource for Cincinnati. Its influence extended across the nation, as its graduates moved into the highest positions of law and government.

Meanwhile, the school's leaders continued to innovate, in both scholarship and teaching. Timothy Walker wrote the magisterial "Introduction to American Law"--which Oliver Wendell Holmes later credited with explaining to him exactly what "the law" was. A half-century later, Dean William Howard Taft--subsequently President and Chief Justice of the United States-imported Harvard's then-controversial "case method" of instruction.

For generations, the College of Law has maintained strong ties to its hometown and the major metropolitan region that Cincinnati has become. Every day, that close relationship magnifies the power of our small scholarly community and makes the law come alive for our students.

Throughout the 20th century, the school stood at the forefront of another innovation in legal education: practical, hands-on experience and skills training. In 1979, the establishment of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights--first of its kind at an American law school--again placed the College at the leading edge of legal education. In recent decades, several other institutes, research centers, and interdisciplinary programs have been established at the College to press the frontiers of law and learning, including the Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project, the Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, the Center for Practice, the Corporate Law Center, and our Joint Degree Program in Women's Studies. Only three American law schools have had their doors open longer than the College of Law--Harvard, Yale, and Virginia. Few have been as consistently innovative.

Over many generations, the College has produced legions of accomplished alumni who benefited from the College's rigorous, yet personalized and supportive education: renowned judges, skilled prosecutors and defense attorneys, elite corporate lawyers, leading academics, business executives, public officials, members of Congress (including three Speakers of the House), two Supreme Court justices, a Nobel laureate, and a United States president.

We continue to produce leaders today. Our graduates are woven into the very fabric of our city, our region, the country, and the world. They contribute in countless ways to the energy and vitality of Cincinnati, and parts beyond.

A great university needs a great law school. A great city needs a great law school.