The law, by its nature, straddles yesterday and tomorrow. Grounded in the past, the legal process is in continuous evolution, adapting to changing social environment. Yesterday’s legal innovation becomes today’s practice and tomorrow’s tradition.

Despite this obvious truth, American legal education has not done a very good job of instilling in law students a strong sense of history – a full awareness of the inseparability o the law’s past, present, and future. We all demand of an educated man that he have a general familiarity with the course of Western civilization and its dominant figures. Historians of business, of medicine, and of science have in recent years assumed an important place on the faculties of our professional business, medical, and scientific schools. But in the law, though we claim a place for it as a learned calling, most graduates enter upon their professional lives with little conception of the law’s great tradition, only the dimmest recognition, or less, of Solon, Justinian, Grotius, Coke, Mansfield, Marshall, Story, and Kent, and little more familiarity with Holmes and Cardozo.

There are signs of improvement. Scholarship and instruction in American legal history are becoming more widespread and visible, as illustrated by Professor Bickel’s study of Justice Brandeis at Yale, Professor Hurst’s institutional studies at Wisconsin, and Professor Gunther’s work on John Marshall at Stanford. Our best law schools are actively looking for scholars trained in both law and history to teach and study legal history, though the search for such men is usually in vain, so neglected has been the field. It may be hoped that these developments in our law schools foreshadow a wider historical awareness to come. Historical study at a law school, even when narrowly focused and elected by only a minority of the students, asserts the relevance of the past and adds a dimension to the environment of the school and to the work of the entire faculty.

Like all other institutions of the law, our law schools, too, stand upon the shoulders of those who have gone before. The example of earlier lives in the law is a powerful force in the legal education of generations following. As a great school slowly adds years to its maturity, it acquires a momentum of its own, generated out of its past and silently transmitted to each succeeding student generation. No one can set foot in the great ancient universities of England and the Continent without feeling the impact of the continuity of their past and the immanent presence of the great men who received their education there or, in their time, enriched the atmosphere and standards of the school itself. While older educational institutions are open to the risk of becoming over-fascinated with their own past – the risk of drifting off into self-centered, mossbacked irrelevance – their patina of history does develop in their students a regard for the accomplishments of the men who have gone before, a sense of responsibility entrusted to them by their predecessors, and a tradition of standards that the young dare not fail to match.

In 1968, the Stanford School of Law will graduate its seventy-fifth class. Now at age 73, the Law School is young beside the 744 years of Padua’s law school, young even beside Harvard’s 149 years and Columbia’s 108, but is, nonetheless, of significant seniority against the background of the newest part of the New World. During its three-quarters of a century, Stanford’s eyes have been steadily trained toward the future. No one would have it otherwise, and the Law School will continue to press forward into the future to build the facilities, faculty, and library required to develop and sustain its destiny as a great law school. But one of the costs of the School’s intense focus on tomorrow has been relative inattention to yesterday – to the preservation of records and symbols of achievement of those who have taught at the School, who have studied at the School, and who have given its leadership.

At Columbia Law School there hangs an oil portrait of Professor Nathan Abbott, who taught there from 1906 to 1922; at the Stanford Law School, where, from 1892 to 1906, Nathan Abbott’s contributions as the School’s first dean were beyond measure, there is no portrait of him. At the University of Chicago there is an oil portrait of Frederic Woodward, vice-chancellor of that university after 1916; at the Stanford Law School, where he taught and served as dean for eight years from 1908 to 1916, there is no portrait of Frederic Woodward. At the Yale Law School there hangs an oil portrait of the great Professor Wesley Hohfeld who taught at Yale for three years from 1915 to 1918; at the Stanford Law School, where Professor Hohfeld’s basic innovating work was done over the ten years from 1905 to 1915, there is nothing to record or recall his presence.

Wherever one looks about the Law School at Stanford, the situation is the same. The earliest class photograph the School has is a photograph of the Class of 1916; it has none of any earlier class and none of any class between 1916 and 1947. Except for a portrait of Judge Crothers, no visible tribute to the School’s benefactors is on view in the Law School building. The Law School has photographs of a few former professors of the School, but only a few. No single portrait of any of the great figures in the history of American or English law looks out upon classes of Stanford lawyers.

The School is embarking on a sustained effort to locate and bring together for fitting display a complete gallery of portraits of its deans, portraits of its great professors like Professor Hohfeld, portraits of leading English and American judges and scholars, important records in the development of the law, photographs of the School’s earlier classes and organizations, and other memorabilia of the School, and to do permanent honor to the School’s special benefactors.

A beginning has been made. It was most fitting that the Class of 1939, at its twenty-fifth reunion reported in this issue, should start things off by presenting to the School the fine portrait of Dean Emeritus Marion Kirkwood reproduced here. Initial efforts are underway to arrange for copies to be painted from the portrait of Deans Abbott and Woodward and brought to Stanford. This year’s graduating class is bringing out the School’s first class yearbook. Professor Emeritus George E. Osborne has presented to the School, as a symbol of the office of the deanship, an appropriately inscribed and handsome gavel, earlier presented to him by the Class of 1958. A collection of archives of the Law School has been begun, drawn from the limited School records that have been preserved.

These are encouraging developments, and the School is very grateful for them. But it is only a beginning. The job of assembly will take many years and, indeed, will be never finished. I am confident that the pride of Stanford’s law alumni in their School, and their interest in the background of their profession, will insure long-range success of the enterprise.