Green, Leon A. (1888–1979)

By: John F. Sutton, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: October 26, 2020

Leon A. Green (Dean Green), professor of law and legal scholar, son of William Morris and Emily Frances (McCormick) Green, was born at Oakland, Louisiana, on March 31, 1888. He received an A.B. degree from Ouachita College, Arkansas, in 1908 and an LL.B. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1915. From 1912 to 1915 he was a partner in the law firm of Rector and Green in Austin, and after graduation from law school he began teaching law at the University of Texas. From 1918 to 1920 he practiced privately in Dallas and Fort Worth, then returned to full-time teaching in 1920 at the UT law school. In 1926 he was offered and accepted the deanship of the University of North Carolina law school but went instead to Yale University as a visiting professor. He remained at Yale as a professor until 1929, at which time he was appointed dean of the law school at Northwestern University.

In 1937 Green testified on behalf of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's bill to increase the number of United States Supreme Court justices, the so-called "court-packing" bill, and was attacked bitterly by Senator Thomas T. Connally of Texas (see COURT-PACKING PLAN OF 1937). Green's testimony reflected his belief that Roosevelt's bill would make the court more sensitive to the needs of the people. In a magazine interview that same year, Green analyzed sit-down strikes as more than trespassing on an employer's property. He thought that the relationship between employer and employee was as important as the property rights of the employer, and that both parties must be cognizant of this fact before a solution could be found. Though he caused much controversy with his frank appraisal of the situation, the administration of Northwestern University, firm supporters of his academic freedom, allowed Green to keep his position as dean. He returned in 1947 to the University of Texas, where he remained until 1977, with the exception of a one-year professorship during the 1958–59 school year at the University of California Hastings College of Law.

Green was a pioneer in several areas of tort law, particularly in regard to the duty concept and injuries to relationships. He was a nationally known writer, scholar, and philosopher and a stimulating teacher. Three of his students became Supreme Court justices: John Paul Stevens, Arthur Goldberg, and Thomas Campbell Clark. As dean of Northwestern University School of Law, Green assembled a faculty of unusual stature, and his curriculum revision and innovation set the direction for legal education. He started the Texas Law Review when he returned to the University of Texas.

He was advisor to the editorial council of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology; a member of the American Association of University Professors; a member of the American, the Texas, the Connecticut, the Illinois, and the Chicago bar associations; and a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas, Phi Delta Phi, and the Order of the Coif (of which he was national secretary-treasurer, 1963–70). He was listed in Who's Who in America for many years and received honorary degrees from Yale University, Louisiana State University, and Northwestern University. Green's major books include Rationale of Proximate Cause (1927), Judge and Jury (1930), The Judicial Process in Tort Cases (1931; 2d ed. 1939), Injuries to Relations (1940), and The Litigation Process in Tort Law (1966). He was also a major contributor to legal periodicals.

He was a Unitarian and a member of the Democratic party. He was married to Notra Anderson from 1909 until his death, on June 15, 1979. They had two children.

Judith Jackson, "Bibliography of Leon Green," Texas Law Review 56, February 1978. The Reporter (publication of Northwestern University School of Law), Spring 1979. David W. Robertson, The Correspondence between Leon Green and Charles McCormick, 1927–1962 (Littleton, Colorado: Rothman, 1988). Who's Who in America (1974–75).

  • Education
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  • Librarians
  • Central Texas
  • Austin
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John F. Sutton, Jr., “Green, Leon A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
October 26, 2020

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