The Friday night legal history lesson started at The Sazerac Bar, Gov. Huey P. Long’s old haunt.
The “Corruption Tour” guided by Tulane Law Professor Vernon Palmer covered Louisiana lore from Long’s supposed box for bribes in the lobby of The Roosevelt Hotel to the plan hatched at Napoleon House to rescue the French emperor.
At Canal and Bourbon streets, students learned about the corrupt Louisiana Lottery of the 19th Century and the red light district known as Storyville. The storytelling covered French architecture, privateers and pirates and the impact of the slave trade and its aftermath on New Orleans culture.
This was the inaugural event of Tulane Law School’s revived Civil Law Society, attended by some 75 students of all grade levels.
The enthusiastic response to the group reflects renewed student interest in Louisiana’s civil law tradition: Currently, 40 percent of entering students are electing into the civil law curriculum.
Second-year student Matt Landry, president of the Civil Law Society and a New Orleans native, said he and other friends plan to practice in Louisiana after graduation and are enthusiastic about the state’s history and culture.
He said he was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout for the society’s first excursion.
“I guess it was unrealistic for me to think that the intelligent and diverse people Tulane Law School brings to our state would not be magnetized to the opportunity to walk amongst top Civil Law scholars and learn about Gov. Long’s deduct box, Storyville and the Pirate who saved New Orleans,” he said.
Law Professor Sally Richardson, faculty advisor to the Civil Law Society, said the group’s revitalization highlights that students recognize the value of studying civil law.
“For our students planning to stay in Louisiana, studying the civil law is obviously crucial,” she said. “But even those headed to California and Texas and New York recognize that, in the age of globalization, being able to speak the legal language of South America, Europe, Asia is a major asset, and one that Tulane is particularly well-suited to provide.”
The group is scheduled to meet Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. in the MPR.