I met with Justice Rines over the winter break to go to the storage facility where his father Robert Rines (hereafter Rines) papers and other paraphenalia is stored. We were only the quest for source documents to shed light on the mythology around the creation of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. This part of putting together an article on the founding of FPLC from inception to accredidation for the final issue of IDEA this Spring. Many of alums got the oral history (some from the mouth of Rines), that he was a part time faculty memeber at MIT and had proposed establishing the MIT School of Law with a law/science specialty. As the story goes, Rines proceeded with the process until a new MIT president was named who decided his administration would not support a law school at MIT. Truth or fiction? There are no documents in the Gire Archive to support this history. This story was witin the larger context of Rines goals of improving the American patent system as well as establishing a patent practice program that taught lawyers how to draft claims and better prosecute patent applications. Calls to senior professors at GW (the oldest law school in the U.S. teaching patent law) confirm that FPLC was the first to teach patent practice. GW confirmed in the 1970s they only taught black letter patent law.
Justice and I were able to find two cases of papers that may contain documents confirming the creation myth. At lunch he agreed to contact a few of the remaining players in the founding of the school. I will contact them as well as a list of others provided to me by Emeritus Professors Dick Hesse and Tom Field. I am also working with the Gire Archivist Matt Jenks to review the papers of Dean Robert Viles as well as press clippings and other papers from that era. I also reviewed all of the documents in the Gire Archives from Dean Robert Viles. Viles was a very detail oriented administrator keeping copious notes and memos on the smallest of matters. There is no evidence found of the theory in his files.
The creation myth continues. We get more content on a regular basis that may resolve this open question. As this unfolds we learn more about the other face of the first decade of the law school. FPLC has been considered from its founding to be a leader in not on intellectual property, but also skills based practical education leading to practice ready lawyers, social justice/public interest, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. As Rines was fond of saying - "you see a need, you fill it...".
Stay tuned for more as the creation myth is explored.