Law School

Frank Palmer Speare, introduced law courses to the YMCA’s Evening Institute in 1898. Speare recognized the need for a program in legal education for working men who were unable to attend the day classes offered by Harvard and Boston University. In 1904, the program was incorporated as the Evening School of Law of the Boston YMCA with the power to grant the Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree.

The primary goal of the law program was to prepare students for the Massachusetts Bar Examination. The Evening School of Law, which attracted students who worked during the day and who could not afford tuition to other law schools, offered 200 hours of instruction, combining lectures and the case study method. Completion of the law program required four years of study rather than the three years required at law schools with day-time programs. The first teaching staff consisted of five men who taught courses on pleading, property, criminal law, contracts, and torts.

After its incorporation, the Evening School of Law underwent several significant changes. In 1922, the first women law students were admitted into the program; in the same year, the school was renamed Northeastern University School of Law. Because of the increase in student enrollment, divisional campuses of the School of Law were established in Worcester and Springfield in 1917 and in Providence in 1920. In 1938, day courses were implemented, and the School moved from its building on 312 Huntington Avenue to 47 Mount Vernon Street on Beacon Hill. The School of Law became accredited by the University of the State of New York in 1943 and was awarded membership in the American Association of Law School in 1945.