AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

For the 'true lover of the law' – the origin of LL.M. programs| A case study of the University of Pennsylvania Law School

by Matthew Parker

Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Year: 2016
Keywords: Law; Higher education administration; Education history
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2110341
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=3746348


Legum Magister, or LL.M., degrees have come under increasing criticism in recent years in the United States. Observers have accused law schools of offering these and other graduate law degrees simply to increase revenue, and argue that they provide no value to graduates as they are not respected in the traditional legal services market. Despite these negative appraisals, the number, size, and types of these programs have continued to grow rapidly. While much has been written criticizing this growth, almost nothing has been written on how and why these programs came into existence, even though a number of law schools claim that their programs were founded over a century ago. As graduate law programs continue to blossom and law schools attempt to address the rising tide of criticism aimed at them, law school leaders would be well advised to examine the origin and history of these degrees. Is it possible that law schools have been hoodwinking innocent lawyers into getting a useless degree for decades? Who were these degrees originally intended for and who ultimately chose to matriculate into these programs? What were the curricula for these programs like? Through historical analysis and archival research, this case study of the development of graduate law programs at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that they were founded in response to a perceived need to make the study of law more scholarly, and to ensure that law school training was not wholly confined to the necessities of legal practice. These programs arose amidst a drive toward professionalization and standardization at the turn of the twentieth century that was visible across a wide sector of American society, and reflected one aspect of the long simmering tension between those who viewed law as a scholarly enterprise much like philosophy or political science, and those who viewed it as a trade, to be mastered like medicine or engineering. This disagreement persists to the present day and an examination of the origins of graduate programs vividly illustrates that the study of law has meant different things to different people from the earliest days of legal education.