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The History of Albany Law School
Albany Law School is the nation's oldest independent school of law. Founded in 1851, Albany Law has played an important role in the development of legal education in the United States.
In mid-19th century America, the standard preparation for the bar was a legal clerkship. The school's founders—Amos Dean, Ira Harris and Amasa Parker, all successful lawyers active in public affairs—felt that this approach fell short in preparing new lawyers. The trio set out to replace it with a structured educational program that encompassed both thorough knowledge of the principles of law, and experience in applying them. Their philosophy of legal education caught hold and Albany Law School flourished. This combination of theory and practice continues to be a hallmark of an Albany Law education today.
The school's early history is marked with a range of noteworthy milestones and accomplishments. In 1873, it affiliated with Albany Medical College and Union College to form Union University. Later on Albany College of Pharmacy, nowAlbany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, joined. Each institution has its own governing board and is responsible for its own programs.
Albany Law School has attracted and produced many historically-distinguished alumni, including:
- David Brewer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
- William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States
- Kate Stoneman, the first woman admitted to the New York bar
There is an historical picture tour of Albany Law School at the website of New York Heritage.
In 1875, Albany Law published the nation's first student-edited law review, the Albany Law School Journal. An innovative lecture series on legal ethics began just after the turn of the century.
Throughout the 20th century, Albany Law School expanded and diversified the faculty, curriculum and student body. It added important programs such as theAlbany Law School Clinic & Justice Center, in which students and faculty provide legal support for low-income citizens, and the Government Law Center, a highly respected resource for law- and policymakers in Albany and elsewhere around the country. Most recently it added a Center for Excellence in Law Teaching.
These additions were among many steps the school took to ensure that the curriculum and related experiences offered the best of a modern legal education.
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