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1800s Beginnings

Los Angeles Law Students Association is formed. Eager law apprentices took the lead in promoting "organized" legal education in Los Angeles. In 1896, Judge David C. Morrison (above) "threw open the doors of his courtroom" for 36 law apprentices - five of them women - to hear prominent local attorneys praise the concept of a formal law school. James Brown Scott (above), who was to head the nascent institution, exhorted the students to create a "law school of permanent character."

The Los Angeles Law School is incorporated. Its 11-member board of trustees included a woman, self-made agricultural magnate Harriett W.R. Strong.

1900s Building Permanence

Program becomes affiliated with USC; the university awards degrees for study completed at the Los Angeles Law School. As early as 1885, USC officials had contemplated forming a law school. This affiliation realized the dream of early advocates Robert Widney (above) and George I. Cochran, both Los Angeles attorneys and USC trustees.

James Brown Scott's premature resignation put the new law school's "permanent character" to the test. There followed a succession of "annual deans": Lewis A. Groff (1900-01), George L. Sanders (1901-02) and Daniel M. Hammack (1902-04). Starting in 1900, the school moved six times in as many years.

USC begins awarding law degrees. Gavin W. Craig receives the first diploma.

University of Wisconsin-educated contracts expert Frank M. Porter LLM '10 (left) is appointed dean. In his 23 years at the helm, Porter struggled to bring permanence to all aspects of law school life. He stabilized the faculty, strengthened academic standards and promoted a diverse student body.

Frederick W. Houser '00, one of the school's first graduates, becomes the first alumnus to serve on the bench. After graduating, he spent a term in the California Assembly before his election to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1906; he later rose to the appellate court and the state supreme court.

The USC Law gains approval by the American Bar Association and membership in American Association of Law Schools.

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