The regular meeting of the Harvard Law School Association, which will be held the day before Commencement, will be the occasion of a special celebration in honor of Professor Langdell, who will have completed the twenty-fifth year of his connection with the Law School as Dane Professor and Dean. The celebration will take place in Austin Hall. One of the principal features will be an address by Sir Frederic Pollock, author of "Pollock's Work on Torts" and several other legal books. The address will be followed by a dinner which will probably be served in Lower Massachusetts.
Many people who have heard a great deal about the Harvard case system of studying law but do not know how it originated, will see why so much importance is attached to Professor Langdell's services when they understand that he was the one who introduced the system and under whose direction it has been carried on at Harvard.
The best description of the case system is in Professor Langdell's own words as quoted by President Eliot in his speech delivered at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary.
"He (Professor Langdell) then told me that law was a science! I was quite prepared to believe it. He told me that the way to study a science was to go to the original sources. I knew that was true, for I had myself been brought up in the science of chemistry; and one of the first rules of a conscientious student of a science is never to take a fact or a principle out of second-hand treatises, but to go to the original memoir of the discoverer of that fact or principle. Out of these two fundamental propositions, that law is a science, and that science is to be studied in its sources, there gradually grew, first, a new method of teaching law; and, secondly, a reconstruction of the curriculum of the school."
Professor Langdell entered the Law School in 1851 and graduated in 1854. While at Harvard he acted as student librarian of the Law School, and materially assisted Professor Parsons in the preparation of the notes on his famous work on contracts. After graduation he went to New York, where he engaged in the practice of law. In 1870 he was called to the chair of Dane Professor of Law, in place of Professor Parsons, who had just resigned. In the fall of that year he was made the first Dean of the Law School, which position he still holds.