Before a meeting of one of the Law Clubs recently, an old but reasonable plan was presented to alleviate some of the mechanical routine work which prematurely whitens the hair and stoops the shoulders of nascent advocates. This is the proposal to add to the curriculum an optional, credited, thesis course, in which individual initiative would have an outlet. It would offer an agreeable relief from the never-ceasing labor of note-taking, note-memorizing, and case-summarizing.
At present, the Law Review and scattered conferences with professors have been the only means by which students were encouraged to do independent research. Even here virtue had no compensation but itself. No credit was given, and there was a consequently small number of men who could afford to take advantage of the opportunity. The work suggested for a thesis course would be somewhat similar, however, to that done now for the Review and the occasional conferences; though there would be more time and incentive to do it. It would consist, roughly, in the resurrection of interesting and significant cases, or in specific and general treatment of modern law, dealing with its trends and peculiarities. In order that men taking this course will be more informed than glib, it should be given only in the third year. This will allow the students to have spent two uninterrupted years in steady accumulation and assimilation of the ground-work of the law. That process of laying the foundations is usually felt to be interesting though hard; but it is generally considered exceedingly irksome by the third year. A thesis course would furnish at least a partial vent to this feeling of heavy monotony.
Though there is a sizeable body of the Law School faculty who favor the institution of this course, there is an even larger group who would rather stand pat. Some of them believe that the students themselves really do not want it; some that the difficulties of administration are too great. Neither objection has enough weight behind it to argue against the innovation. The adoption of the proposal hinges on the willingness of the faculty to drop its sedentary attitude and make a belated experiment.