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Current Exhibitions

Reading the Law: Legal Education in America

Reading the Law Exhibition Overview

From apprenticeships to modern day law schools, Reading the Law: Legal Education in America explores the evolution of legal education teaching methodologies, beginning with the Inns of Court and continuing into the 20th century. Although attending law school is now the standard for entering the legal profession, historically, not all Justices followed this path. The educational background of the Justices represents a wide array of teaching methods, ranging from those who were self-taught to those who became law school valedictorians. This range reflects the changing landscape of legal education in the United States.

Objects such as Earl Warren’s grammar school desk and Charles Evans Hughes’ grammar school report cards highlight the Justices’ early educational background. Law school notebooks, diplomas, and reading lists illustrate how future Justices entered the field of law. Some Justices taught at law schools and contributed important legal texts and articles during their careers which helped to shape the country’s legal education system. Joseph Story is one such Justice and his Harvard Law School academic robe is among the items exhibited.

Story Robe


SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 1 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20543