Bridging the Ages: Quintin Johnstone Reflects on 60 Years in Legal Education
Michael Marsland Photograpny
Professor Johnstone, you attended law school at the University of Chicago before World War II. How did your legal educational experience compare with that of today?
Professor Quintin Johnstone
Professor David A. Friedman recently had the rare opportunity to revisit a former professor as a peer. While studying law at Yale University, Friedman took classes from Professor Quintin Johnstone, who taught law at Willamette University from 1947 to 1949. Now the Justus S. Hotchkiss Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School, Johnstone spoke with the younger Willamette law professor about how legal education has changed during his lifetime.
My law school experience was typical of today, except for the first year. Chicago had a program for students who successfully completed three years of undergraduate education. Students could begin law school after that third year. After successful completion of the first year of law school, they received their undergraduate degree then two years later, their law degree. For me, this presented a difficult experience because I retained a great deal of undergraduate involvement in my first year in law school. This included being co-captain of the track team when the University of Chicago was still in the Big Ten. My fellow co-captain, an outstanding track and field athlete, was the first Heisman Trophy awardee in football. What did you do before entering academia? I worked as an associate in a small Chicago firm that handled all kinds of matters. Then I went to Cornell for a year as a student and received an LL.M. degree. After Cornell, I served for six years as an attorney in the Office of Price Administration (OPA), which imposed and enforced price ceilings on almost everything during WWII. I started my employment with OPA in Washington, D.C., then moved to Chicago when the agency opened an office there. Why did you decide to enter academia, and why did you choose to teach at Willamette? I sought out academia because of the intellectual challenge. I grew up two blocks from the University of Chicago, so I grew up knowing professors and going to school with their children. The academic life was something I found appealing. After my government service, I applied for teaching opportunities. The offer from Willamette was the best and most interesting. Willamette was a good, small school. The salary, however, was only $3,000 a year. What was the academic environment at the College of Law like? I arrived in late January 1947. The school was quite small, but growing rapidly because many veterans were enrolling. The faculty consisted of only five full-time members, each teaching three courses per term. There also were several local attorneys teaching one course per year. Dean Seward Reese fostered a familial atmosphere among the faculty. The administration was very willing to try to provide resources for the law school.
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