Journal Title

Journal of American Culture





First Page


Document Type


Publication Information



Lawyers’ belief in their professionalism was fostered by the creation and development of modern legal institutions. Law schools, bar associations, organizations like the American Law Institute, as well as the system of legal directories, the regional case reporter system, and continuing legal education groups all contributed greatly to the making of a distinctly professional culture of law in America. These institutions prospered in part because of their ideological fit with the professionalizing ethos embodied in Christopher Columbus Langdell’s statement that “law is a science.”

Legal institutions, then, must be evaluated through the ideological lens which encouraged and fostered the notion that lawyers were a part of a scientific enterprise. The perception that law was a science, and lawyers scientists, altered the shape of the legal profession. This shape was further altered by the development of those legal institutions which assumed the science of law. A study of selected legal institutions provides a glimpse of the relationship between the vision of law as a science and the development of the modern American legal profession and culture.

Recommended Citation

Michael S. Ariens, Modern Legal Times: Making a Professional Legal Culture, 15 J. Am. Culture 25 (1992).

Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.