History of the Hartford College of Law

              In the summer of 1921 Attorney Allan K. Smith called at my office, introducing George W. Lillard, whom he had met in Government work during the First World War. They said that an evening law school was to be started here and asked me to teach. In a moment of weakness, and selfishly feeling that the experience would be good for me intellectually, I accepted.

            Others will tell you tonight what we owe to George Lillard, so I will not speak of the apparently insurmountable obstacles I saw him overcome. Right here, however, I would remind you that in honoring George we must not forget his wife, Caroline, who helped him in may ways in the school office, as well as giving him encouragement and moral support when he must have been sorely in need of it.

            I have been asked to speak as the oldest living non-graduate of The Hartford College of Law, and I will confine my remarks to an attempt to give you a sketch of the highlights in the history of the school which he established.

            School opened October 25, 1921, with faculty composed of James E. Rhodes of the Legal Department of the Travelers Insurance Company, Allan K. Smith, John J. Burke, James W. Knox, now president of the First National Bank of Hartford, and your speaker.

            Classes were held five nights a week on the top floor of the at the north-west corner of Allyn and Ann Streets in Hartford. Mr. Lillard was on hand every evening, as was also his wife. We teachers, however, each reported only one night a week. In February 1922 the School moved to the old Hartford Life Insurance Company Building at the corner of Asylum and Ann Streets.

            The second year classes were held on the top, or next to the top, floor of The Hartford-Connecticut Trust Company Building. We were always near the top.

            The fourth year the course was extended to four years, and the students and Mrs. Lillard were given a break as classes were held only four nights a week.

            The next milestone was reached in 1925, when the General Assembly granted the School a special charter.

            In 1926, the School moved to the Graybar Building at 51 Chapel Street. The Street was then just beginning to become almost respectable. Here we were again on the top floor. The building has only two floors.

            Much larger quarters were enjoyed when the School, in 1930, leased the Kindergarten Building of the West Middle School at 44 Niles Street. Many graduates will have interesting recollections of that building which housed the School for ten years.

            Starting in 1931 the School complied with the standards of the American Bar Association requiring two years of college work before entering law school/

            Two years later Mr. and Mrs. Lillard conveyed all their financial interest in the School with all its furnishings and library to a Board of Trustees, and Mr. William Brosmith, Vice-President and General Counsel of the Travelers Insurance Company became President of the Board, and a regular full-time Dean was appointed.

            That same year on September 18, 1933, the School was approved by the American Bar Association and accredited by the Examining Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association so that its graduates could take the Bar examinations without having longer to resort to the legal subterfuge of registering as students in law

offices, when, as a matter of fact, they were acquiring practically all their legal education at the Law School.

            The school was re-incorporated in 1935 as a non-profit educational corporation. By 1935 the School met the examination requirements of every state.

            The Hartford College of Insurance, which was, I believe, largely the brain child of Mr. Harlan S. Don Carlos of the Travelers Insurance Company, its other parent being the Board of Trustees of The Hartford College of Law, was incorporated by the General Assembly in 1939.

            During 1940 the sum of $50,000 was raised by public subscription, largely supported by the local insurance companies, for the purchase, remodeling, and equipping of this building at 39 Woodland Street. This was formerly the home of Professor M. W. Jacobus, who had been Dean of the Hartford Theological Seminary and two of whose children made a generous contribution to the Building Fund. A builder stated in 1940 that this property had a replacement value of $250,000.

            This beautiful building seems, in a way, to be a memorial to George Lillard. After seeing the School advance from one room over the bird store to progressively bigger and better quarters, he lived to see the School, and its child, the College of Insurance, owning their own home here entirely free of debt. I am glad he was spared to join in this triumph, and I share with a host of his friends their deep regret that he was taken by death the month after school opened in 1940.

            Here I would digress from this chronological recitation to speak briefly of some of Mr. Lillard’s associates and their successors.

            Primarily as teachers in the School, but in some cases as members of the Advisory Board and the Board of Trustees, George Lillard secured the cooperation of leaders of the Bar. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court not infrequently gave advice, and he and the Governor of the State, the late Wilbur L. Cross, have spoken at annual Law School banquets. In addition to a large number of attorneys who have had their individual offices and Judges of the Superior Court, the Court of Common Pleas and the City Court, the Referee in Bankruptcy and attorneys from the office of the State Tax Commissioner, the Hartford Probate Court and the Travelers Insurance Company, the Following firms have been represented in carrying on the active work of the School:

                    Alcorn, Bakewell & Alcorn

                    Bill and Bill

                    Davis, Lee, Howard & Wright

                    Day, Beery & Howard

                    Solomon Elsner

                    Forward & Levin

                    Gross, Hyde, Williams

                    Hewes & Awalt

                    Robinson, Robinson & Cole and

                    Shipman & Goodwin

            In addition to these part-time teachers, the School has been blessed with a number of excellent full-time professors. Two especially have given many years to the School and have endeared themselves to their pupils and their associates. I refer to the late Birdsey Case and William F. Starr. The Latter is not the “late” but current

           I will not undertake to enumerate the many men who have graduated from this School and who are now rapidly becoming leaders of the Bar of this County and of State. I will, however, remark that the first class embraced J. Agnes Burns. (Do not misunderstand me.) She not only was several times elected one of the two Representatives from Hartford to the State Legislature, but she was also the first or second woman to appear as an attorney before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

            Next came the Second World War. In the spring of 1942 the trustees saw that the Day School could not be maintained another year, but it was hoped that night classes could be carried on. During that summer, however, the School, born to Mr. and Mrs. Lillard in 1921, which in September would attain its majority, experienced a re-birth. Negotiations were carried on with President Jorgensen of the University of Connecticut, as a result of which the University leased the Law and Insurance Schools for one year, with the idea that the 1943 Legislature would be asked to effect a permanent union between the two Colleges and the University.

            This was accomplished, the Legislature authorizing a five-year lease of the College to the University, which, if it provided faithful to its trust, would in September 1, 1948, became the successor to the College of Law and the College of Insurance. The trust was not misplaced, and a week from tonight Trustees, who hold title to this building, will hand a deed conveying full title to the property to the President of the University.

            As soon as the University took over in 1942, Acting Dean Ackerman did a very fine thing. He immediately telegraphed all members of the Day School, then widely scattered, informing them that the Day School would open in the fall and would remain open until every pupil graduated. Nearly every student who was not in the armed forces returned and the Day School was kept open until the last class, with only three pupils, completed the day course in February, 1944. After the war, the Day School was re-opened in February, 1946. The Evening School operated continuously throughout the war.

            I started with the School when it opened in 1921, and as instructor, member of various committees, member of the Advisory Board, Trustee and officer, I have been permitted to live with the School its entire life until fully taken over by the University of Connecticut on September 1st of this year. I will always be grateful to George Lillard for this opportunity which I have had to help in the expansion of the educational opportunities of this community. In passing on the torch to the University of Connecticut, I feel we are keeping faith with George in placing the institution which he established on a footing, so firm it will live as long as educational institutions exist in Connecticut and will be a finer institution covering a wider area in the field of education than even George with all his vision and optimism ever dreamed.


- Remarks made by Roger Wolcott David, President of The Hartford College of Law, Founder’s Day, October 20,1948, on the occasion of the unveiling of a portrait of George William Lillard, Founder, in 1921, of The Hartford College of Law.


            For additional light on the history of The Hartford College of Law, reference may be had to the Law School catalogues for a number of years, e.g. see catalogue for the year 1947-8.

            The names of those who have served the School as teachers, committee members, incorporators, trustees and officers appear in the catalogues issued by the School. Catalogues haves been issued every year, or almost every year, starting 1922.

            These same catalogues list students in the School at the time the catalogues were issued.

            The same information ad to the Hartford College of Insurance is found in the catalogues of the Insurance School, issued jointly with the Law School, or separately, since 1940.    

            Reference is also made to the following Acts of the Connecticut General Assembly:

1925 Special Acts, Chapter 292, chartering The Hartford College of Law;

1935 Special Acts, Chapter 219, re-incorporating The Hartford College of Law as a non-profit educational corporation;

1939 Special Acts, Chapter 257, incorporating The Hartford College of Insurance as a non-profit educational corporation;

1943 Public Acts, Chapter 240 ( Sec. 449g- 452g of the 1943 Supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes) authorizing the acquisition of The Hartford College of Law, The Hartford College of Insurance, and the property of the Building Trustees by the University of Connecticut.


            For title to the School’s real estate see:


Hartford Land Records, Vol. 736, Pages 533 and 534, two deeds conveying the Jacobus property at 39 Woodland St., Hartford, to the Building Trustees of The Hartford College of Law and The Hartford College of Insurance;

Hartford Land Records, Vol. unknown, Page unknown, deed dated September 1, 1948, conveying title to said 39 Woodland Street property to the State of Connecticut for the use of The University of Connecticut.