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A native of Alabama, William Minor Lile received his LL.B. from the University of Virginia in 1882. He began teaching law at Virginia in 1893 and in 1895 was a founder of the Virginia Law Register. In 1896 he was made administrative head of the law school and in 1904, when Edwin Alderman became the first president of the University of Virginia, Lile became the first Dean of the Law School. He helped to initiate the Virginia Law Review in 1913 and he greatly expanded the law library. Lile believed strongly that law students should be able to locate primary authority and to perform legal research and writing effectively. To that end he, like many of his predecessors, wrote and published extensively. Ever cognizant that graduates of the law school require practical preparation for their professional careers, Lile writes in the 1904/05 Department of Law Catalogue that “The student is taught that books are the working tools of the lawyer, and that facility in handling them, in the office and in the court room, is an indispensable professional acquirement.”
Lile felt strongly that casebook approach to the study of law, popularized by Christopher Langdell of Harvard, did not provide an adequate framework of general subjects and he wrote in 1921: “With most of the other law schools of our country now thoroughly wedded to the so-called Case System, we find ourselves almost in a class to ourselves. We are thought of, and not infrequently referred to by our contemporaries, as old-fogyish, and out of date. But we have held to our own methods—not from ignorance of the virtues of the other system, but from deliberate choice. . . . our men go out into the profession not only with excellent reasoning powers, but fully equipped with a knowledge of fundamental legal principles.” By the time Lile retired in 1932, the entrance requirements for the law school had evolved from not even demanding a high school degree to requiring two years of undergraduate study; the length of instruction at the law school increased from one to three years, the number of law school faculty grew from 4 to 8, the law school moved first into Minor Hall, then Clark Hall where it would remain until 1974, women were admitted for the first time in the 1920-21 session, and the University of Virginia joined the Association of American Law Schools. Lile died in 1935.
Eleven of Lile's bound, handwritten journals are available in Special Collections.
Notes to Volume I of Minor’s Institutes, and on Corporations (J.P. Bell, 1894).
Notes to 1 Minor’s Institutes (Fourth Edition) (Michie, 1899).
Notes on Municipal Corporations (Whittet & Shepperson, 1900; 2d ed. 1905; Michie, 3d. ed. 1910).
Notes on Private Corporations (Whittet & Shepperson, 1900).
Notes on Vol. III, Minor’s Institutes (Michie, 1901).
Notes for Use in Connection with Merwin on Equity and Equity Pleading (s.n., 1909).
Notes on Equity Jurisprudence, to Accompany Merwin’s Equity (Michie, 1913).
Notes on Bigelow’s Bills, Notes and Cheques (2nd Edition) (Michie, 1914; 2d ed. 1918; Olivier/Anderson Bros., 3d ed. 1922).
Lectures on Equity Pleading and Practice, with Forms and the New Federal Equity Rules (G.W. Olivier, 1916).
Notes of Lectures on Equity Jurisprudence to Accompany Merwin’s Equity (University of Virginia, 1921).
Notes on Municipal Corporations (Olivier/Anderson Bros., 3d ed. 1922).
An Outline of the Equity Pleading and Practice, with Forms and the Federal Equity Rules (Olivier/Anderson Bros., 2d ed. 1922).
The Law of Bills, Notes, and Checks (Little, Brown, 3d ed. 1928).
Private Journals of William Minor Lile (edited by Maud Tucker Drane and Walter Harding Drane) (Drane, 1987-88).
General Contractual Powers of Married Women under Virginia Code of 1887, 3 Va. L. Reg. 635-644 (1898).
An Analysis of Chapter 103 of the Virginia Code, Creating and Regulating the Separate Estate of Married Women, 4 Va. L. Reg. 413-439 (1898).
The Honor System, 2 Am. L. Sch. L. Rev. 456-464 (1910); reprinted in Addresses on the Honor System at the University of Virginia 13-26 (Michie, 1914).
The Exaltation of Secondary Authority, 26 Va. St. B. Ass’n Rep. 279-297 (1913); reprinted in 1 Va. L. Rev. 604-619 (1914) and in 2 Docket 1272-1275, 1296-1299 (1914-15); abridged versions reprinted in 47 Chi. Legal News 174-175 (1915) and in 14 Bench & Bar (n.s.) 53-59 (1919).
Legal Education and Admission to the Bar in the Southern States, 13 Ky. St. B. Ass’n Proc. 68-91 (1914); reprinted in 2 Va. L. Rev. 241-257 (1915).
Some Views on the Rule of Stare Decisis, 39 Ala. St. B. Ass’n Proc. 61-82 (1916); reprinted in 4 Va. L. Rev. 95-113 (1916) and in 84 Cent. L.J. 46-54 (1917).
The Legal Status of Women in Virginia, U. Va. Rec. Extension Ser., April 1920, at 16-26.
Bills for Account, 8 Va. L. Rev. 181-202, 266-276 (1922).
Pleading by Initials, 8 Va. L. Rev. 387-388 (1922).
The Self-Governing Bar, 38 Va. St. B. Ass’n Rep. 79-86 (1926); reprinted in 12 Va. L. Reg. (n.s.) 656-662 (1927).
Judge-Made Law: An Appreciation, 53 A.B.A. Rep. 587-599 (1928); reprinted in 15 Va. L. Rev. 525-536 (1929).
Note by Associate Editor, 1 Va. L. Reg. 363-367 (1895).
3-8 Virginia Law Register (editor) (J.P. Bell, 1897-1903).
Introduction, in Brief Making and the Use of Law Books 1-3 (Nathan Abbott ed., West, 1906); reprinted in 2d ed. (1909) at 1-3; in 3d ed. (1914) at 1-2; and in rev. 3d ed. (1922) at 1-2.
Notes on Statutes (s.n., 1911).
Some Practical Hints for the Beginner in the Making of a Brief (s.n., 1911; Michie, 2d ed. 1915).
Study of Cases, Head-Noting (s.n., 1914; 3d ed. 1927).
The Law School of the University of Virginia, Alumni Bull. U. Va, July-Aug. 1921, at 86-99.
Raleigh Colston Minor, 16 Alumni Bull. U. Va. (3d Ser.) 375-380 (1923); reprinted in 10 Va. L. Rev. 89-94 (1923).
Charles Alfred Graves (1850-1928), 15 Va. L. Rev. 723-726 (1929).