Lunch & Learn CLE with Professor Bernie Hibbitts

The Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Date and Times: 
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

The Rivers Club
One Oxford Centre, Suite 411
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Making Lawyers by Mail: Entrepreneurs, Law Professors and the Short-lived Success of America’s Correspondence Law Schools, 1890-1920

Pitt Law legal historian and JURIST founder Bernard Hibbitts tells the all-but-forgotten tale of how a generation of visionary lawyer-entrepreneurs living in world of railways and postal delivery at the turn of the twentieth century pioneered the first stable form of legal distance education by creating over 50 correspondence law schools that eventually spanned the United States. The leading institutions of the genre had massive budgets, operated out of skyscrapers in great cities like Chicago and Detroit, published their own multi-volume textbooks and counted their students in the thousands. Yet within 30 years all but a few were gone, effectively suppressed by a rising cadre of university law professors and their attorney allies in the established urban bar. What happened? Were the correspondence law schools mostly money-grubbing frauds, manufacturing lawyers unfit for practice? Or were they in fact pedagogically successful and socially progressive institutions that challenged traditional legal and social elites? Fast-forwarding to today, why have we ignored the history of these early schools? What lessons might they offer for our own twenty-first century efforts in teaching and learning law online? Professor Hibbitts explores these questions with the aid of extensive evidence from the period, including law school advertisements, teaching materials, and the writings of some of the most vocal critics of law teaching by mail. His talk is based on research for his forthcoming book on correspondence legal education, to be
published by the University of Chicago Press.

This program has been approved by the PA Continuing Legal Education Board for (1) hour of substantive credit.  There is a $30 fee for processing CLE credit for this event.

Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP HERE no later than April 19, 2017.

For more information contact the Office of Development & Alumni Affairs by calling 412-648-1305 or via email at