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The first week of law school is for most students an intimidating experience. Everyone is so serious. My first week was leavened considerably by Harry Kalven. A group of students and Kalven were watching the seventh game of the 1964 World Series in the student lounge of the University of Chicago Law School. The broadcast was interrupted by a news bulletin: Nikita Khrushchev had just been deposed. Viewers were treated to several minutes of political and diplomatic analysis, with correspondents around the globe speculating on what this might mean for East-West relations. One of my classmates, an amateur Kremlinologist no doubt, expressed surprise: “I can’t understand why they would do this now.” Kalven agreed: “Yeah, in the seventh inning.”

Though well liked and greatly respected, Harry Kalven was not the most popular teacher in the law school during my time as a student. Some classmates thought his classes moved too slowly, that he belabored and repeated points. Everyone warmed to his wit, his imagination, and his generous spirit, but not everyone found in Kalven’s classes the crackling intellectual tension, the rigor, the sense of analytic closure that some other teachers provided. By any measure Kalven was a good, effective teacher. But was he a great one?


Law | Legal Biography | Legal Education


The copyright for the Journal of Legal Education is held by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS); the copyright for the article is held by the author.