19th Century Advertisements for Columbia and Yale Law School

March 31st, 2011

If I was an aspiring attorney in the 1870, and was considering Columbia and Yale Law School, which one would I choose? The New York Times has a hilarious retrospective with various advertisements that Ivy League schools ran in newspapers enticing prospective students to attend their school.

Take this advertisement for the Columbia College Law School from Sept. 27, 1870. Here are some of the details:

  • Classes ran from October 4-May 15. Even if you were not admitted to school as late as September 27, you could still gain admission by October 4!
  • Who needs three years of law school? The entire course could be completed in two terms, about 20 months.
  • The best part– “Graduates are admitted to the Bar without further examination.” That would be pretty cool.
  • Classes at 37 Lafayette Street were downtown, and quite close to the U.S. Court house.

Or, take this advertisement for Yale Law School from August 4, 1868 (almost 2 months after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment!).

  • Like Columbia, courses are only two years (who needs a third year?).
  • Forget about the LSAT. “No preliminary examinations” is required.
  • Plenty of breaks- Eight weeks of vacation in the fall, and three weeks of vacation in the spring, plus winter recess of two weeks.
  • Plus tuition is a staggering $80 for the first year, and $70 for the second year.


Hilarious. Here is the TImes’ writeup:

In an ad hovering over a pitch for cured hams on Oct. 7, 1871, Columbia Law School assured applicants that (unlike some rivals) its graduates were “admitted to the bar without further examination.”

Harvard Law opted instead to drop the names of distinguished faculty members in ads it ran from 1868 to 1871. And Yale Law School, one of the most sought-after law schools on the planet, ran ads in August 1868, a time when its own future within Yale University was rocky, regaling student with reasons to consider New Haven.

They included “access to library without extra charge,” eight weeks of fall vacation, three weeks of spring vacation and a two-week recess “embracing Christmas and New Year.” And, the ad noted, “students can enter or leave at any time.”