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William LaPiana has for years been one of the most learned and acute scholars of nineteenth-century American legal thought. In his most recent book, he is both scholar and advocate. He has a client and a cause to defend. LaPiana's client is Christopher Columbus Langdell, who, as Dean of Harvard Law School in the 1870s, developed what would become the prototype for modern legal education in the United States: the three-year, postgraduate sequenced curriculum of private-law courses staffed by a faculty of full-time academics teaching by the "case method" - the interrogation of students primed with the reading of appellate cases. LaPiana's cause is Langdell and his faculty's larger vision that underlay their reforms: their ideals of legal science, their theory and practice of the case method, and their projects of professional improvement.
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