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James Barr Ames

James Barr Ames (June 22, 1846[1] – January 8, 1910)[2] was an American law educator, who popularized the "case-study" method of teaching law.


Ames was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 22 June 1846. He received his primary education in Boston, then graduated from Harvard College in 1868, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1872. He began working as a tutor and instructor at Harvard in 1871, and continued until 1873, when he was admitted to the bar. Although a licensed lawyer, Ames did not open a private practice, spending his full-time at Harvard during his entire career, as tutor, instructor, assistant professor, full professor, and dean of the Law School.

Ames married Sarah Russell (born 22 September 1851) on 28 June 1880.

He died on 8 January 1910.

Harvard legal career[edit]

Ames has been called the foremost teacher of law of his time, being not only an exceptionally broad and accurate scholar, and a profound student of the history of common law, but also having special ability in the development of clear and exact thought in those under his instruction.[3]

In teaching Law to his Harvard students, Ames used actual legal cases to illustrate legal principles, a concept which had been developed by Christopher Columbus Langdell. Ames insisted that legal education should require the study of actual cases instead of abstract principles of law. He was instrumental in introducing the case method in the teaching of law, a method which had come into general use in US law schools at the time of his death, and which continues to the present.[4] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1878.[5] He served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1895 to 1910. He was a manager of the 1907-founded Comparative Law Bureau of the American Bar Association, whose Annual Bulletin was the first comparative law journal in the U.S. Ames had received the degree of LL.D. from six universities by the time of his passing.


Further reading[edit]

  • Kull, Andrew. James Barr Ames and the Early Modern History of Unjust Enrichment. 25 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 297 (2005)
  • Ames, James Barr. Lectures on Legal History (1913)

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Christopher Columbus Langdell
Dean of Harvard Law School
Succeeded by
Ezra Ripley Thayer

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Barr_Ames — Please support Wikipedia.
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Harvard Law School News

Harvard Law School News
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:16:42 -0800

Patricia Millett '88, U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit. Established in 1911 at a bequest of the late Dean James Barr Ames, the competition is run each year by the HLS Board of Student Advisers. This year, Two teams of 3L students ...

Harvard Gazette

Harvard Gazette
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:02:16 -0800

The seminar co-leaders were Philip Heymann, J.D. '60, the James Barr Ames Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Mathea Falco '65, president of the nonprofit research institute Drug Strategies. The multifaceted group explored issues such as: Has ...

Harvard Gazette

Harvard Gazette
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 03:01:08 -0700

... executive director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at HKS and co-director of the Program On Crisis Leadership with Leonard; and Philip B. Heymann, James Barr Ames Professor of Law at Harvard Law School — centers on the ...
Lawfare (blog)
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:21:19 -0700

Philip Heymann is the James Barr Ames Professor of Law at the Harvard University Law School. Heymann has served at high levels in both the State and Justice Departments during the Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton administrations, including ...
Harvard Magazine
Thu, 14 Feb 2013 09:48:27 -0800

Harvard got into the book-publishing business in the 1640s. It happened this way. In 1638, Puritan clergyman Josse Glover sailed for Massachusetts with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children, and a locksmith named Stephen Day and his family. The ...

Wesleyan Connection (blog)

Wesleyan Connection (blog)
Wed, 02 Oct 2013 11:29:40 -0700

American scholars who are the primary focus of this book include Henry Adams, James Barr Ames, Melville M. Bigelow, James Coolidge Carter, Thomas McIntyre Cooley, William Gardiner Hammond, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Norton Pomeroy, Roscoe ...
Mon, 11 Apr 2011 14:06:49 -0700

Langdell's second innovation came in 1873 when he startled the legal profession and irritated some in the university community by hiring the first purely theoretical law professor, James Barr Ames, himself a graduate of Harvard Law School. Since law ...
Open Democracy
Thu, 05 Jan 2012 06:59:22 -0800

“Consideration, according to the traditional definition,” noted James Barr Ames, once Dean of Harvard Law, “is either a detriment incurred by the promisee or a benefit received by the promisor in exchange for the promise.” Why each was once a ...

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