Theodore William Dwight was the first dean of the law school.
He first came to Columbia in 1858, the first law professor since the departure of James Kent in 1798. He remained the sole instructor in the law department until it was expanded into a formal law school in 1873, at which point he became dean.
Dwight stayed on until 1891, when the trustees foisted the case method of teaching on him. Dwight had developed his own, eponymous method, which emphasized memorization of treatises and frequent moot courts, in contrast to the parsing of cases. In protest over the rejection of his method, Dwight and other faculty left to found New York Law School. Today, the case method is taught even there.