ABA opens first US museum of law in its Chicago offices

The American Bar Association opened a law museum in the lobby of its expensive Lake Shore Drive headquarters in Chicago last week.

The Museum of Law is reputedly the only museum dedicated to the trials and tribulations of US lawyers.

ABA executive director Robert Stein hopes the exhibition will grow into one of Chicago's major tourist attractions. “It's part of our programme of public education and fostering understanding of the rule of law,” he said.

Unlike some of Chicago's more noteworthy tourist destinations, such as the Sears Towers and its blues clubs, the museum offers educational programmes, special events and publications for its visitors.

It plans to present exhibitions on famous US trials from the Boston Tea Party to OJ Simpson.

ABA members will vote for which trials to include in a ballot in the December edition of the ABA journal.

Other exhibitions will show US presidents who were lawyers, of which there have been 26. In comparison, the opening features “America's Advocate: The Story of the ABA” – a rather tame chronicle of the ABA's 118-year history.

A special section pays tribute to the US legal system's UK roots. For example, it says: “Americans took the best ingredients of British legal thinking and modified them.”