The continuing education law school
In 1911, a group of earnest young law school graduates started teaching free law classes at night in the basement of the Nashville YMCA. The idea was to make a legal education accessible to all "for the good of the town."
Things change. Tuition increased from "free" to "among the cheapest in the nation." The school finally moved out of the Y and into a campus of its own a few decades ago. But it remains true to its mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education for those without the time or the money for traditional law school.
It still draws its teaching staff from the top ranks of the city's legal community: judges, attorneys, state Supreme Court justices. Students still rush to school at 6 p.m., tired from working all day, with four hours of class work stretching before them.
"You've got to really want it," said Jack A. Butler, a longtime Nashville attorney and instructor at the Nashville School of Law.
Butler would know. He graduated from what was then known as the YMCA Night Law School in 1962 and has taught at the school since 1978. Some of his students commute from as far away as Knoxville, Memphis and Johnson City — commuting as much as six hours a night, two to four nights a week, for four years.