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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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20 news items

Harvard Law School News

Harvard Law School News
Thu, 14 Apr 2016 07:10:31 -0700

MacKinnon, the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, traced her leading role in the development of sexual harassment law from her dissertation through the present day. As part of her research, and to pay for both graduate ...
The Weekly Standard (blog)
Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:33:45 -0800

... 1850s, years in which the law school continued to attract students from the South; and Harvard's disinclination, even after meritocratic criteria for admission and ranking were introduced during the deanships of Langdell and his successor James ...

Harvard Law School News

Harvard Law School News
Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:11:57 -0800

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, founding Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and Tim McCormack, the James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law to the Prosecutor of the ...

Boston Globe (subscription)

Boston Globe (subscription)
Wed, 27 May 2015 18:09:17 -0700

God, I love the WASPs. Word arrives that the Bush family is building a 3,000-square foot, four-bedroom, four-and-half-bathroom “cottage” for scion/presidential hopeful Jeb on the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. A cottage? Isn't that what Irish ...
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 ...

The TransAdvocate

The TransAdvocate
Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:11:25 -0700

Catharine A. MacKinnon is a lawyer, teacher, writer, theorist, and activist. She is the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan and James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (long-term). She holds a B.A ...
Lawfare (blog)
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:21:46 -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 ...

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