James Kent Was Appointed the First Professor of Law at Columbia 220 Years Ago
Kent, an influential jurist who served as a justice on the New York State Supreme Court, taught Roman law and logic at Columbia College.
New York, August 14, 2013—As Columbia Law School celebrates the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, the Law School also marks another important milestone: The 220th anniversary of Chancellor James Kent’s appointment as the first Columbia professor of law.
Kent, an influential jurist who served as a justice on the New York State Supreme Court, taught Roman law and logic at Columbia College, and was an inspiration for the establishment of legal education at the institution.
As described by former Law School warden Theodore W. Dwight in his 1889 history of Columbia Law School, “Kent was truly many-sided. He was a fine classical scholar, a great student, a most persuasive and lucid writer, accustomed to broad lines of thought, in character most admirable, and wholly unaffected and genuine in manners, as befitted a man of eminent ability.”
A set of lectures Kent delivered, Commentaries on American Law, became one of the most important law books of the 19th century.
The Law School was founded in 1858.