Dalhousie Law Journal


Norval Morris


Horace E. Read, memorial lecture, contributions, law, institutions, legal education


It is, of course, a great and undeserved honor for me to be offering this year's Horace E. Read Memorial Lecture. The slightest acquaintance with Dean Read's career reveals the range and quality of his contributions to the law, to the institutions of society and to legal education. It is a great pleasure to be playing a role in these annual memorial celebrations. His life is a model of service and scholarship to all who wish to live the life of the law at its higher levels and refutes those who see our profession as narrow or intellectually confined. Nevertheless, I am unsure whether I am glad that the focas of these celebrations is on legal education, and not on either of the two other areas of Dean Read's particular professional concerns; the topic interests me deeply but it also raises my anxiety to a fearsome level. I find that I have been trying to teach in law schools for thirty years, my first position being as a temporary acting probationary assistant lecturer at the London School of Economics in 1949 (a position, you will appreciate, of awesome power), followed by teaching and sometime deaning in Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia, and Harvard, Utah, Colorado and Chicago in the United States of America. And never, never before have I risked a speech on legal education. I have been suspicious of the topic and of those who talked about it, regarding the curriculum committee of the law school as an exercise in self-aggrandizement, rather than pedagogical analysis and those who lectured publicly on legal education as likely to be compensating for their vacuities in the classroom. And now here I am among their ranks.