Stetson University College of Law releases Florida’s First Law School: A History of Stetson University College of Law

Contact Frank Klim
Executive Director of Communications

Tampa Bay, Fla. – Carolina Academic Press has just published Florida’s First Law School: A History of Stetson University College of Law. The book is authored by Stetson Professor of Law Emeritus Michael Swygert and Gary Vause, former dean of the law school who died in 2003 before completion of the book.

A supremely researched book, Florida’s First Law School describes and analyzes the rise in prominence of Stetson University College of Law from its strong beginnings in 1900 through its mid-life crises during the Great Depression and World War II, and its upward march after its 1954 relocation to the Tampa Bay area. It is a history about the people whose personalities and visions meshed to propel a small, poor law school into the dynamic, secure law center it is today. It is a story unlike any other in the chronicles of American legal education.

The nation’s pre-eminent legal scholars have praised Florida’s First Law School:

“This history is truly a monumental work —a monument to the progress of Florida’s oldest law school, a monument to those who labored to insure that progress, and a monument to its authors, two of Stetson’s most distinguished faculty members.”
—Wm. Reece Smith Jr., former president of the International, American and Florida Bar associations, Rhodes Scholar, and Distinguished Professorial Lecturer at Stetson University College of Law

“This readable book is an important contribution to the growing literature on the history of legal education, and is must-reading for anyone interested in the evolution of American law schools.”
—James W. Ely, Jr., Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law and Professor of History at Vanderbilt University

“This is a vivid, detailed chronicle of the hundred-year-long history of Stetson University College of Law —step-by-step, year-by-year. Stetson law graduates will relish every word of it. Others, too, will learn from it what it takes to make an outstanding educational institution.”
—Harold J. Berman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University and James Barr Ames Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard University

“Filled with people and personalities, this book nicely situates the College’s history within the broader contexts of the history of the state of Florida and the development of American legal education.”
—Walter F. Pratt, Jr., Dean and Educational Foundation Distinguished Professor of Law at The University of South Carolina School of Law.

“This book may be the most comprehensive history of a law school ever written. It tells a rich story of the ups and downs of Florida’s oldest law school, and in the process nicely chronicles not only one hundred years of law teaching in Florida, but also the transformation in the character of law students.”
—Stephen B. Presser, Director of American Society of Legal History and Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History and Professor of Business Law at Northwestern University

The book is available at the Stetson University College of Law bookstore by calling 727-562-7806, on the Stetson Law web site at
or through Carolina Academic Press at

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you would like to schedule an interview with Professor Swygert, please call the Communications Office at Stetson University College of Law at 727-562-7889.