University of Wisconsin–Madison
A new Law Building, as seen in this exterior plan, was proposed in the mid-1990s.

Oral Histories

The recorded memories of 5 UW Law scholars, at times deeply personal, provide a fuller picture of our institutional history, our impact on our state, and our global influence on legal education and research.

"When Congress was considering amending one of the labor laws, I went up to Congress, even though I was maybe only three years out of law school. If I was the expert on this section of the law, I went up to Congress."

Carin Clauss

"I used to help my father clean up this lawyer's office, and I'd be cleaning up and see the stuff sitting around. I'd look at the stuff, and it looked kind of interesting. I said, 'Hey, I could do this.'"

Daniel Bernstine

"I have a friend who ... was bemoaning that she's so busy, she doesn't have time to ride her horses. She told the horse farm to use her horse in whatever way they could. They took the youngest quarter horse and made her a teacher for the disabled children. Jane was saying, 'Oh, I feel so sad that Solo can't gallop through the fields.' The instructor looked at her and said, 'Is there any nobler profession than teaching?' I thought, 'Hey, it's right for the horse, it was right for me.' There no nobler profession."

Carin Clauss

"Basically, I kind of see myself in some ways as kind of having grown up here. I've always felt like I've had general support from everybody. I've been here almost in every capacity--as a student, as a staff member, as a faculty member, and now as kind of the ultimate demotion as the dean."

Daniel Bernstine

"When we put [the Law & Society course] together here we were one of two or three that were even trying this, and I think it's fair to say that Wisconsin's model is at least let's say one-third the influence that today has spawned a course like this in almost every law school in the country."

J. Willard Hurst

“I think it's fair to say that at that stage I was inventing the field of legal history, legal social history. Nobody had any articulated set of concepts as to what the subject matter of legal history ought to be. It had been sort of taken for granted that the natural subject matter of legal history was to tell the story of successive appellate court opinions, and explain how the judges rationalized what they did. When you did that with one opinion then you moved on to the next one and that was legal history. What I was trying to do, again following the Roscoe Pound idea of a sociological jurisprudence, was to try to organize the history of law in terms of social structure and process, how society hangs together and works and what is the place of legal process in making it hang together and work.”

J. Willard Hurst