Fordham Law

Robert Kaczorowski Publishes Book on Fordham Law History

October 11, 2012

Fordham Law Professor Robert J. Kaczorowski, Director of the Condon Institute of Legal History, has published Fordham University School of Law: A History (Fordham University Press).Robert Kaczorowski Fordham Law History

The book traces the story of the Law School from the day it opened its doors in 1905 in the midst of massive changes in the United States, in the legal profession, and in legal education. Kaczorowski explores why so many immigrants and their children needed the founding of Catholic law schools in order to enter the legal profession in the first half of the twentieth century. He documents how, in the 1920s and 1930s, when the legal profession’s elites were actively trying to raise barriers that would exclude immigrants, Dean Ignatius M. Wilkinson and the faculty at Fordham Law were implementing higher standards while simultaneously striving to make the School the best avenue into the legal profession for New York City’s immigrants.

By examining the Law School’s history in the context of developments in legal education over the course of the twentieth century, Kaczorowski pinpoints the factors that produce greatness in a law school and those that contribute to its decline. The book explains why, prior to World War II, Fordham was one of the leading law schools in America and, along with Columbia's, one of the top two law schools in New York City. As one of those leading schools, Fordham was in the vanguard of legal education reform, and its faculty made important contributions to legal scholarship.

Fordham University School of Law also reveals a post-war decline, primarily because of inadequate funding resulting from the university’s fiscal policies. These policies brought the university’s administration into direct conflict with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), which consistently observed that the Law School was being starved for funds compared with its peer schools, with the result that peer law schools were improving their quality while Fordham was lagging. The conflict, which did not approach resolution at Fordham until the last quarter of the century, was replicated throughout legal education, especially in Catholic universities—yet this is the first scholarly work to document and explain it.

Kaczorowski’s meticulously documented history of Fordham Law brings readers right up to the present day and traces how the Law School, with the unprecedented financial support and active involvement of its alumni, is resuming its prior position as one of the nation’s leading law schools.

New York University Law Professor William E. Nelson says it is "one of the best books ever written on American legal education. Kaczorowski has done a remarkable job.”

The book can be purchased on the Fordham University Press website or on Amazon.