Four Decades of Law School History

The Law Library has added four retrospective publications to its online collections. Whereas the previous collections consisted of historical legal documents, the most recent additions were published by Law School students and prominently feature the school and its alumni.

An example of a front page from the Louisville Lawyer, dated December 1966. An example of a page from the Louisville Lawyer from December 1961.

The earliest of the publications is The Louisville Lawyer, which was published from 1955 to 1974. With stated aims of “foster[ing] and maintain[ing] a closer relationship between the school and the alumni” and setting the foundation for a “full-fledged law review” (which came to be in 1961), the student-run newspaper featured articles on local and national legal issues; news from and about the law school, students, faculty, and staff; as well as feature articles about prominent alumni and professors.

An example cover page of the Louisville Law Examiner from the September 1984 issue.An example of a page from the Louisville Law Examiner from September 1978.

The Louisville Law Examiner, published from 1975 until 1991, was the most similar to a student newspaper. Although most pieces were still written to connect with and inform alumni, an increased number of features, articles, and (perhaps especially) advertisements were directed at students. Similarly, the type of humor found in the writing and comics of student newspapers such as the Cardinal, though not foreign to the Lawyer, was more frequently found in the Examiner.

A characteristic that did not change was the commitment to coverage of legal issues. A feature present throughout the Examiner’s run was known as “The Brandeis Brief”, a term originally applied to a practice Louis Brandeis created as an attorney, combining legal research with relevant contextual factors. The related goal of the namesake column was to “serve as an inspiration for others who feel that laws must conform to and reflect societal needs.”

An example of the cover of The Brandeis Brief, Spring 1994 issue.An example page from the Winter 1994-1995 issue of The Brandeis Brief.

When the Law Examiner expanded with the goal of attracting a national audience in 1992, it also appropriated the name given to Justice Brandeis’s writing style. The Brandeis Brief was no longer a newspaper, but a magazine. The namesake feature was replaced with the Harlan Forum (named after another locally-born Supreme Court Justice and donor to the law school, John Marshall Harlan), where two legal experts offered contrasting views on a prominent issue. Alumni news was expanded, however news about students was limited to one or two pages. The Brief forwent coverage of events such as orientation and Student Bar elections, instead featuring profiles of students, major student achievements, or significant changes to school programs familiar to alumni.

Shrinking budgets brought the end to the student-run Brandeis Brief in 1997. However, the title was reused for a School of Law-produced publicity magazine between 2000 and 2006, and the name has been revived once again for the current alumni relations newsletter.

An example page from the 1979-1980 Senior Bulletin.An example page from the 1989-1990 Senior Bulletin.

The odd addition out is the Senior Bulletin collection. Senior Bulletins showcased the graduating class for alumni and potential employers in addition to serving as a de facto yearbook. An archetype of the Senior Bulletin was printed in 1962 before the compilation was absorbed into The Louisville Lawyer from 1963 to 1974. The Bulletin became a separate publication again for the 1974-1975 school year, and with the exception of the 1976-1977 school year, was produced annually. “Senior”, an artifact term from when the School of Law was an undergraduate program, was replaced with “Graduating Class” for the Bulletin’s last four years of publication. Much the same as with The Brandeis Brief, budgetary concerns brought the end of the Bulletin after the 1998-1999 school year.

Much like a yearbook, participation was not mandatory, so the Bulletins do not serve as a complete record of every graduating student or of their activities. Nonetheless, if you are looking for quick information on a graduate, a class, or even law faculty members of a year covered by the collection, the Senior Bulletins are a good place to start.

You are invited to explore both the law student publications and the Senior Bulletins at http://digital.library.louisville.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/law/.



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