For many 1Ls starting this year, HLS was their first choice. But some found it harder to decide. More than 60 years ago, William Waldron was faced with a similar dilemma: Harvard or Yale. He recently presented the School with a copy of a letter he received in 1935 that outlined the benefits and drawbacks of each institution.
Written by Telford Taylor ’32, a childhood neighbor of Waldron’s who later served as prosecutor and chief counsel during the Nuremberg trials, the letter focuses on what he felt were the three most important factors in picking a law school: instruction in legal technique; the ability to relate law to the greater world; and the surroundings of the school. Taylor, who consulted with several Yale and Harvard alumni before offering his opinion, said Harvard teaches the tools of the law better. Yale teachers are “brilliant enough,” Taylor wrote, “but they are too interested in explaining to you how the law is a very different thing from what most people think.” Both Harvard and Yale “are deficient . . . in showing the relationship of law to life,” according to Taylor. Because of its size, Harvard develops “a very self-reliant and highly competitive student attitude.” And Cambridge/Boston certainly has it over New Haven, he wrote.
In presenting the letter, Waldron noted that it is not entirely outdated. By the way, that’s William Waldron, HLS Class of 1941.