Yale Law School and the Sixties
Revolt and Reverberations
by Laura Kalman
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The development of the modern Yale Law School is deeply intertwined with the story of a group of students in the 1960s who worked to unlock democratic visions of law and social change that they associated with Yale's past and with the social climate in which they lived. During a charged moment in the history of the United States, activists challenged senior professors, and the resulting clash pitted young against old in a very human story. By demanding changes in admissions, curriculum, grading, and law practice, Laura Kalman argues, these students transformed Yale Law School and the future of American legal education.
Inspired by Yale's legal realists of the 1930s, Yale law students between 1967 and 1970 spawned a movement that celebrated participatory democracy, black power, feminism, and the counterculture. After these students left, the repercussions hobbled the school for years. Senior law professors decided against retaining six junior scholars who had witnessed their conflict with the students in the early 1970s, shifted the school's academic focus from sociology to economics, and steered clear of critical legal studies. Ironically, explains Kalman, students of the 1960s helped to create a culture of timidity until an imaginative dean in the 1980s tapped into and domesticated the spirit of the sixties, helping to make Yale's current celebrity possible.
- The University of North Carolina Press, October 2005
The University of North Carolina Press
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