Christopher Columbus Langdell

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Langdell, Christopher Columbus

(lăng`dəl), 1826–1906, American teacher of law, b. New Boston, N.H. He practiced in New York City from 1854 to 1870, when he was appointed Dane professor of law at Harvard; in 1875 he became dean of Harvard law school. Together with J. B. AmesAmes, James Barr,
1846–1910, American jurist, b. Boston, grad. Harvard Law School, 1873. At Harvard he became associate professor (1873), professor (1877), and dean (1895). A disciple of C. C.
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, who succeeded him as dean in 1895, he revised the curriculum of the school. Langdell is especially famed for the introduction of the "case method" in the study of law. In his view the principles of law are best learned by inductive study of the actual legal situations (the cases) in which they occur. Much opposition was expressed by conservative teachers who believed that an abstract formulation of the law was the essential need of the student. Langdell's theory was first adopted at Harvard, then at Columbia law school, and in time gained almost universal acceptance. Langdell prepared casebooks in the fields of contracts, equity, and sales.
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With consequences for today's natural-law proponents and critics alike, Professor Forsyth deftly explores the thought of the Puritans, Revolutionary Americans, and seminal legal figures including William Blackstone, Joseph Story, Christopher Columbus Langdell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the legal realists.
Christopher Columbus Langdell, the first dean of the Harvard Law School and the father of the case system of teaching law that is still the predominant method used in law schools today, was an early proponent of traditional or formal law.
The history of the Harvard Law case method, developed in the 1870s by Christopher Columbus Langdell, is well documented, and the magnitude of its influence in legal education has been immense.
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