University of Denver

Legal Skills Prof Blog on the Langdellian Tradition

Senior Director

In two posts, Scott Fruehwald discusses the "Langdellian Bargain":

Richard Neumann has added a novel concept to the causes of legal education’s problems, which he calls the "Langdellian Bargain" In Comparative Histories of Professional Education: Osler, Langdell, and the Atelier, he traces the origins of law schools’ current structure back to the very beginning of modern legal education in the nineteenth century at Harvard. Part of Langdell’s revolutionary approach to legal education was "that masses of students could be taught law economically in large classes, and the result would be professional learning because students in a Socratic class would do more than passively receive information, as in a lecture. The only substantial investment in such an enterprise would be the library. Personnel costs would be low compared with revenue because of the large number of students in each teacher’s classroom. Teaching would be so financially efficient that a profit could be generated each year." While the profits were originally kept by the law school, today they are shared by the university and the law school.

Any change in legal education, Neumann says, faces this threshold question: Would it would be consistent with the Langdellian bargain?

Click here to read the first post.

Click here to read the second post.