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Book celebrates law school’s 150 years

The memories forged at the schools we attend tend to ripen over time — expanding and continuing to shape who we are long after that final bell rings or the last textbook is put away. Experiences in the classroom can be profound. Well, at good schools with skilled teachers and motivated classmates they can be profound.

A new release from the University Press of Mississippi delves into the impact of such a school.
In its attempt to tell “the story of one of the sate’s formative institutions,” Michael De L. Landon’s “The University of Mississippi School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History” excels. In this story, readers meet political, business and community leaders who have played — and continue to play — leading roles in the Magnolia State. For decades, Ole Miss Law alums have been leading politicians, including Trent Lott, Thad Cochran, Mike Moore, Ronnie Musgrove and William Winter. Its graduates are also making critical contributions to the nation’s top firms, important government agencies and in courtrooms around the country.

The reach of the school extends far beyond Mississippi, and yet, it touches even the smallest communities in the state. Many a small town lawyer, the ones who write our wills, defend our businesses and offer wise counsel in an increasingly complex and litigious society, are Law School alums.

Reading this history of the Ole Miss Law School also provides a valuable narrative complementary to a more thorough understanding of Mississippi — past and present. Examining the school’s start in 1854 with one professor and a scant six or seven students, Landon takes a reader through Reconstruction, the impact of two World Wars, and the transition of the school into a co-educational institution.

And of course, since race is perhaps the single most important issue in our state’s history, he discusses the school’s handling of segregation, the Civil Rights movement and integration.

While “The University of Mississippi School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History” is most likely to appeal to the school’s many alumni, anyone interested in the state’s history should pick up a copy. The details are abundant, and Landon uses them to tell a fascinating story of a school special to its graduates, and because of its place in history and ongoing role in everyday life here, special to the state.

Contact MBJ editor Jim Laird at jlaird@msbusiness.com.

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