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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

LAKE ERIE SCHOOL OF LAW - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The LAKE ERIE SCHOOL OF LAW was incorporated in 1915 as the Rufus P. Ranney Law School, with power to grant degrees. It was named after RUFUS P. RANNEY†, one of Cleveland's leading lawyers of the 19th century, but who had no connection with the school. The school suspended operations in 1917, probably because of a decline in enrollment brought on by World War I. Reopening in 1921, it changed the name to Lake Erie Law School; Ranney's heirs had threatened legal action if the school continued to use the family name. The Lake Erie School held classes in the late afternoon or evening on the assumption that its students were employed during the day. A student carrying a full load attended 2-3 hours of class 3 evenings a week. Initially no college work was required for admission, and the program lasted 3 years. The school changed admission requirements in 1923 and again in 1925 to fit American Bar Assn. recommendations.

Unlike most night law schools, the Lake Erie School was related to a part-time proprietary business school, the Spencerian School of Commerce, Accounts, & Finance. Technically there was no affiliation, but both schools were proprietary and were owned by the same group of individuals. The law school used the administrative staff, buildings, and library of the college, located at 3221 Euclid Ave. The college also provided a source of admittees to the school and drew upon the law school for instruction in commercial law subjects for its students.

Throughout its history, although the faculty was part-time, the library inadequate, and standards of scholarship and curriculum minimal, the school made sweeping claims to academic respectability. Starting in 1927 it offered training leading to a Master of Law degree, and in 1929 offered a degree of Doctor of Juridical Science. In both cases, the advanced degrees were awarded for an additional year of basic courses. Enrollment averaged 50-75 per year during the first half of the 1920s and peaked at 196 in the academic year 1926-27. By 1929-30, the entering class had dwindled to 9 students. The decline was probably due to the Depression and to awareness of the lack of educational quality. Lake Erie School of Law forfeited its charter and closed its doors in 1933.

See also LAW.

Last Modified: 18 Jul 1997 10:24:02 AM

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