Despite the defense of Daniel Webster, the 1875 bequest of Judge Joel Parker to establish a law school, and the current activity of a legal society, law journal, and lawyers' association, there is no law school at Dartmouth College. (The only law school in New Hampshire seems to be Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, and Dartmouth sometimes works with the private Vermont Law School in South Royalton.) Other Ivies lacking a law school are Brown and Princeton (though some have joked that putting Princeton in the balloting for the U.S. News rankings would get its "law school" into the top 20 nonetheless, New York Times, 2/19/98).
None of this means that Dartmouth should refrain from laying claim to the name "Dartmouth Law School," however. On December 21, 2004, the University of Massachusetts trustees voted to acquire a small, unaccredited, private law school called the Southern New England School of Law and turn it into the public law school of Massachusetts. The school is less than three miles from UMass Dartmouth, the undergraduate campus with which it will be associated.
The name UMass-Dartmouth has never been particularly similar to the trademarked "Dartmouth College," but no such restraint will prevent the new law school from going by "Dartmouth Law School." Newspapers already refer to SNESL in this form ("Dartmouth Law School Has New Dean"). No one at either Dartmouth school seems to have filed to register the trademark "Dartmouth Law" or claimed the Internet domain dartmouthlaw.edu.
This is a Chicken-Little complaint, and terribly snooty; but that does not mean that no harm will come from confusion between a "Dartmouth Law" in Massachusetts and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, as there are already plenty of people who have good reasons to assume the college has a law school. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program states that one of its past fellows graduated from Dartmouth Law School when it means Vermont; Stanford's Hoover Institution describes a Dartmouth economics professor as a "Dartmouth Law School professor"; James Patterson's novel When the Wind Blows has a character wearing a "Dartmouth Law" shirt; and the idea that Emily Dickinson's grandfather attended a "Dartmouth Law School" is spread wide. Evangelist Joe Whitchurch at one time even decribed Nixon "hatchet man" Charles Colson as a "Dartmouth law graduate" though Colson attended GWU law after college at Brown.
Dartmouth's public presentation has been getting more attention than usual recently, as seen in the student creation of PR site BuzzFlood and the call for a coat of arms (Dartmouth still does not have one). Dartmouth lacks a word mark or a comprehensive and public set of graphic standards, which, judging from the variety demonstrated by the school's websites (see the library's intrinsically fine but nevertheless incongruous purple "tilted D" pages) are things it needs. Though branding may seem corny, compare the competence that Brown University's logo and its new standards demonstrate.
It will be interesting to see if Dartmouth College finds that it has an interest in the identity of a law school that does not exist once it recognizes that everyone imagines that such a school should exist.