The Department of Law of the University was opened in the fall of 1859. The wisdom of the step was doubted by many, and it cannot be said to have had the hearty support of the profession of the State. Systematic legal education through the instrumentality of formal instruction was in its infancy. It was practically unknown in the west, for outside of New England and New York there was at the time no law school of standing and influence. The profession generally, the country over, had little sympathy with any method of training for the bar excepting the historic one of apprenticeship in the law office. The study of the law as a science separate and apart from its study and application as an art did not appeal to the average practitioner. It did not seem to him either logical or practicable, and so his influence was against the new departure and in favor of the old regime. Moreover, at this time but little attention had been given to methods in legal instruction. As a rule the work of the schools was carried on in an irregular way by men whose predominant energies were given to active and practical duties at the bar or upon the bench. It was of necessity largely incidental and secondary. It goes without saying that, under such conditions, it was possible to make out a very good case against the law school and in favor of the office apprenticeship, where, as it was argued, the student had the constant supervision of his preceptor.
Hutchins, Harry B. "Thomas McIntyre Cooley." Mich. Alumnus 13 (1906): 23-9.