History of the Law School

The University of Chicago, one of the youngest of the major American universities, was granted its charter in 1890 and opened its doors for classes in October 1892. The generosity of its founding donors, led by John D. Rockefeller, enabled the first president of the University, William Rainey Harper, to realize his bold ideas and extraordinary standards in the creation of a new university. Harper insisted that the new institution must be a true university, with a strong emphasis on advanced training and research, as well as undergraduate education.

The Law School, part of Harper's original plan but delayed in fulfillment until 1902, was a product of an innovative spirit and a devotion to intellectual inquiry. The objective, in the view of Harper and faculty members associated with him in the project, was to create a new kind of law school, professional in its purpose, but with a broader outlook than was then prevalent in the leading American law schools. The aspiration of the new school was set by Harper's conception of legal e