LaPlante's History of the Law School

                                History of School

            The Hartford College of Law, which was later to become known as The University of Connecticut School of Law, opened its doors for its first students on October 25, 1921. Classes were held in a rented room at 94 Allyn Street, at the corner of Allyn and Ann Streets, in what was then the Hartford Wire Works building and is now the                    building. The school’s office was at 75 Pearl Street, the office of George W. Lillard, the school’s secretary.

            Strictly a night school. Started to accommodate the number of young men working for insurance companies who wanted legal training for their careers in insurance or for later practice of law. Faculty was composed of several well-known Hartford lawyers. Applicants had to furnish satisfactory proof that they had the equivalent of a high school education or could pass examinations similar to a high school examination. The enrollment of the first class numbered fifty, of which sever (sic) were women. The full course of law study took three school years of about eight months each, with lectures five nights a week.

            In June of 1934, the College of law graduated its first class, six in number. Of these six, one was J. Agnes Burns, who then became the first graduate from The Hartford College of Law to be admitted to the Connecticut Bar. (She was one of twenty-four successful examinees out of a total of ninety-nine.) Two months after becoming a member of the Bar, Miss Burns also had the distinction of being the first woman lawyer to appear in a case before the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors.

            Since the College’s first class had had an enrollment of approximately fifty but ended with a graduating class of only six, it became evident to the administration that few students were willing or able to do the great volume of work necessary to complete the course in three years; consequently, the course of law study was changed to one of four years of eight months each, with classes four nights a week.

            [Birdsey W. Davis listed as Dean June, 1924. First year? Was then well-known Hartford lawyer. (sic)]

            [In June, 1926, George W. Lillard is listed as President of the College.]

            [Joe- See 1926 page. Item refers to opening session at 94 Allyn St. 1921 item?]

            In the fall of 1926, the College of Law moved from Hartford Connecticut Trust Company [center of Main and Pearl] to larger quarters at 51 Chapel Street. Facilities there were compromised of four classrooms, a library, a waiting room and a private office. The College occupied the entire second floor of the building and it was thought that these facilities would beadequate (sic) to several years to come. The enrollment for the three classes that year, 1926, was seventy-five.

            The rapid increase in the number of students created, of course, several problems. One of these problems caused the creation of the Students’ Club, which, according to a newspaper item, was “organized to promote social intercourse and draw the students closer together, since “now classes are too large to permit close acquatainceship (sic) among the students.”

            In June, 1928, the law school occupied an entire floor at 51 Chapel Street. It had a student body of 90 and a faculty of 15 instructors.

            In September of 1928 College of Law saw its largest entering class thus far, 48 in number. Enrollment was then a little more than 100.

            Enrollment in September, 1929 was 110 students, 25 women.

            In June, 1930, there was a graduating class of 8.

            Editorial of July 22, 1930, Hartford Times:

Announcement that the Hartford College of Law will conform at the beginning of the school year of 1931 to standards of the American Bar Association, thus qualifying as an approved law school, is gratifying. The College of Law was established in 1921 to fill a need which was evident. It was designed to give a legal education to young men and women debarred from the opportunity of attending regular schools.

It was necessary to proceed slowly at first and the charter did not give its graduates the right to take bar examinations. Some of them were able to do so because they were registered as students in the office of established attorneys. In spite of this handicap, however, the school has graduated thirty-four students, fourteen of whom have been members of the bar. Its graduates who have taken the bar examinations have made excellent records.

Hartford is large enough to have a law school. It is desirable that young men and women who are ambitious and who are obliged to sustain themselves by their employment should have an opportunity to study law. It is important that the course they take should lead to the privilege of taking bar examinations. The college will increase its usefulness when its students may become practicing lawyers upon graduation if they can qualify.


            [Statement in July 22, 1930 Courant item that George W. Lillard founded the school. True? Apparently, stated in several items.]

            In October 9, 1930, College had an enrollment of 100 (sic).

            In 1931 College moved its quarters to 44 Niles Street for the beginning of its eleventh year. At this time, the College was busily making arrangements toward meeting the standards of the American Bar Association. This involved, among other, the following:


Change of entrance requirements, making it necessary for students seeking admission to show evidence of having completed at least one-half of the work acceptable for a bachelor degree. Prior to this change applicants had to provide proof of a high school education or its equivalent or pass an examination upon subjects usually taught in high schools of the state.
Maintenance of an adequate library consisting of not less than 7,500 usable volumes.
Employment of three full-time instructors. These were: Norbert B. Lacy of Hartford, Benjamin G. Hobberton of Mt. Carmel, Ill, and Arad M. Riggs of Englefield, Ind.

New quarters at 44 Niles Street included a spacious classroom and assembly room, three smaller classrooms, an instructors’ room, a library, and storage rooms.

In November, 1932, George W. Lillard stated that one major requirement for meeting A.B.A. standards is that of required financial backing, which rules that sufficient funds be had by the college to assure its existence for five years. Mr. Lillard said that College had funds to assure its existence only one year (sic).

[Paper item of 1932 states that College was chartered in 1925.]

First Dean of Hartford College of Law:   Farwell Knapp, appointed on June 17, 1932. Was then Assistant State Tax Commissioner, and he had taught at the College for the past seven years. Started serving as Dean in September, 1932.

            [Apparently, this was only a temporary appointment, since in June, 1933, Dean Knapp announced that plans were under way to secure a permanent dean for the law school.]

In 1932, were 68 students enrolled (sic). Decreased enrollment was due to higher entrance requirements, which resulted in a smaller entering class.

In June, 1932, graduating class of 13.

            In September, 1932 student body of 80, 20 of them in entering class.

            In June, 1932, graduating class of 1933 (sic).

            July 1, 1935, item in Courant:

            The Hartford College of Law, conducted for the past 12 years by George W. Lillard and Caroline Lillard, has been transferred to a board of trustee. Under the new organization, it is expected that the school will meet all the requirements of the American Bar Association, and that it will be approved by the association by the time the fall term opens.

            The board of trustee consists of William Brosmith, Roger W. Davis, Farewell Knapp, Cyril Coleman, Herold E. Mitchell, Reinhart L. Gideon, and George W. Lillard. The six trustees who have been named with Mr. Lillard are well known attorneys in Hartford.

                                                Chartered 1925 (sic).

            The school was chartered in 1925 as a corporation, with Mr. and Mrs. Lillard owning al of the stock. They are turning itover (sic) to the board of trustees, so that henceforth it will fully meet the requirements of the bar association, will not be a private enterprise, and will serve the community without profit.

            There will be three full-time instructors and a full time dean when the school opens in September. For a number of years, the student body has averaged about 75, the past year showing the smallest attendance since the school was founded. The school is located at 44 Niles Street.