Profile America: The First Law School

Saturday, December 10 — “Scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.” That was the observation of Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous 1835 book, “Democracy in America.” Lawyering came early to the United States. In the middle of the Revolutionary War, the College of William and Mary established the first law school this month in 1779. The Williamsburg, Virginia school didn’t hire the professors, as they were paid directly by their students. Today’s attorneys are paid well, with a median income over $120,000 per year, or over quadruple the national per capita median of under $28,600. As a measure of our enduring devotion to legal authority, there are over 173,000 law offices across the nation, employing over a million lawyers and clerks.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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