Notre Dame Law School

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Notre Dame Law School
Notre dame coat of arms.png
Parent school University of Notre Dame
Established 1869
School type Private
Parent endowment $9.8 billion
Dean Nell J. Newton
Location Notre Dame, IN, U.S.
41°41′55.27″N 86°14′16.45″W / 41.6986861°N 86.2379028°W / 41.6986861; -86.2379028Coordinates: 41°41′55.27″N 86°14′16.45″W / 41.6986861°N 86.2379028°W / 41.6986861; -86.2379028
Enrollment 520 (2014)[1]
Faculty 97[2]
USNWR ranking 22 (2015)[2]
Bar pass rate 88.11% (2013)[3]

The Notre Dame Law School, or NDLS, is the professional graduate law program of its parent institution, the University of Notre Dame. Established in 1869,[4][5] NDLS is the oldest Roman Catholic law school in the United States. NDLS is ranked 22nd among the nation's "Top 100 Law Schools" by U.S. News & World Report.[2] NDLS is ranked 16th by Business Insider's Best Law Schools in America.[6] Ranked 8 in federal judicial clerkships by US News.[7] Notre Dame Law ranks 17th in graduates attaining Supreme Court clerkships in recent years, tied with Cornell Law School and the University of Minnesota Law School.[8]

According to Notre Dame's 2015 ABA-required disclosures, 76.0% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment ten months after graduation.[9]

It offers the only American Bar Association-approved year-long study abroad program, which is based in London.[10]



The Notre Dame Law School opened in February 1869 and was the first Catholic institution of its kind. Despite its humble beginning, right from the start the Law School required law students to have completed previous education in a thorough course in the liberal arts. This was not common at the time, when Law School applicants only had to be 18. The first faculty consisted of only four professors, with the most prominent being Lucius Tong and Timothy Howard. The first class graduated in 1871 and consisted of three students.

The reading room of the Kresge Law Library, in Biolchini Hall

"Colonel" Hoynes era[edit]

The Arch connecting Eck (left) and Biolchini (right) Halls

One of the most important names in the history of the school was "Colonel" William Hoynes. He was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland in 1847 and emigrated with his parents at age seven. He fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War. After the war, he was a student at Notre Dame from 1867 to 1872, and later went to Brunswick, New Jersey where he was editor of the Daily Times. Hoynes later attended the University of Michigan Law School and obtained his LL.B . In 1882, Rev. Walsh, then the president of the University, invited Hoynes to take control of the Law School, which was in demise. Hoynes accepted Rev. Walsh's offer in 1883, and taught classes in the Main Administration Building (University of Notre Dame) and in Sorin Hall where a large room permitted him to set up a "Moot Court". The course of study was extended from two to three years. Hoynes was assisted in various subjects by John Ewing and Lucius Hubbard of South Bend. Under his tenure, enrollment in the law school began to rise immediately.

Hoynes Hall, named in honor of Dean William Hoynes, was built in 1920 for the exclusive use of the law students who had been using Sorin Hall. In 1925 John Whitman was appointed by Dean Thomas Konop as the first law librarian, and the collection grew to 7,000 volumes.

20th century[edit]

On October 7, 1930 the Law School was transferred to the new building located on Notre Dame Avenue. The beautiful Gothic building, which still stands today, has a large reading room. The second librarian, Lora Lashbrook, and the third, Marie Lawrence, grew the library's collection to 20,000 volumes by 1952, and 55,000 volumes in 1960. The increase in size of both the library collection and the number of students greatly reduced the available space, but this was balanced by the expansion of the law school funded by a donation by S. S. Kresge, the namesake of the Kresge Law Library. In 1986 a further expansion added the East Reading Room and created the reference librarian offices. In 1990 alumnus John F. Sandner donated funding for the acquisition of the entire 120,000 volume collection of the Chicago Bar Association Library.

21st-century expansions[edit]

In 2004, the Kresge Law Library became one of the few academic law libraries to own more than 600,000 volumes. This was accomplished mainly under the tenure of the fifth law librarian, Roger Jacobs, who also served as head librarian of the Library of the United States Supreme Court. Between 2007 and 2008, a new building, the Eck Hall of Law, was constructed to provide the Law School with an additional 85,000 square feet of classroom and office space. In 2010 Robert Biolchini, alumnus and entrepreneur from Tulsa, Oklahoma, funded the renovation of the Kresge Law Library, located in the renamed Biolchini Hall of Law. The renovated Biolchini Hall is 106,500 square feet, has two 50-seat classrooms, a seminar room, 29 group study rooms, and holds 300,000 book volumes and more than 300,000 volumes in microfilm. The total cost of renovations and expansions was approximately 58 million dollars.

Admissions and rankings[edit]

Biolchini Hall in winter

Admission to NDLS is highly selective. For the class entering in the fall of 2016, the median LSAT score was 164 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.71.

Notre Dame Law School is ranked 22nd among the nation's "Top 100 Law Schools" by U.S. News & World Report.[2] In addition, NDLS is ranked 17th in Above the Law's "Top 50 Law School Rankings" in 2014.[11] The law School is a top 10 runner up for Elite Litigation boutique hiring.[12]


The Law School grants the professional Juris Doctor, Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees. The Master of Laws program can be pursued either at the main campus in South Bend or at the Law School’s London Law Centre in the United Kingdom. The law school also offers a Master of Science in Patent Law, Certificate in Patent Prosecution, and LL.M. in International Human Rights Law. Additionally, the Law School offers three dual degrees in collaboration with other departments at the University.

  • JD/MBA Joint Degree Programs Either three of four years. Started in 1970, the program is offered in combination with the Mendoza College of Business.
  • JD/MA in English Offered with the Department of English.
  • JD/M. Engineering Offered with the College of Engineering.

Job placement[edit]

The class of 2014 reported employment in 29 states and the District of Columbia. In the class of 2015, 136 out of 179 graduates (76.0%) secured full-time, long-term employment requiring passage of the bar exam within ten months of graduation.[9] The top 3 most popular destinations for graduates in the class of 2015 were Illinois (43), Ohio (11), and Indiana (9). Furthermore, 32.4% of graduates in the class of 2015 found employment in large law firms (100+ attorneys) and 8.4% pursued federal clerkships.[13] Notre Dame has been recognized as a feeder school for federal clerks and in recent years has placed a higher percentage of its graduates as federal clerks than other top law schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Columbia Law School.[14]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Notre Dame Law School for the 2015-2016 academic year is $72,322.[15]


Former main entrance to Notre Dame Law School; the new Eck Hall of Law opened in 2009.

Notre Dame Law School is located in the heart of Notre Dame's campus. Eck and Biochini Halls, two buildings connected by a suspended walkway, house the Law School. The conjoined buildings were designed by famous architect Charles Donagh Maginnis and the buildings serve as a prominent example of collegiate Gothic architecture. The Kresge Law Library is located in Biochini Hall, while most of the classrooms are in Eck Hall. Funding for the law library was provided by businessman S.S. Kresge, the founder of what is now Sears Holding Corporation. The Law School also hosts a legal aid clinic in South Bend.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]

Despite having smaller graduating classes than most of America's top law schools, Notre Dame's alumni roster includes a range of distinguished jurists, advocates, politicians, and business leaders.

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable current faculty include:

Notable former faculty include:

Law journals[edit]

Notre Dame Law School publishes five student-run journals:


  1. ^ "ABA Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). ABA Standard 509 Information Report. ABA. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "University of Notre Dame". Best Law Schools. US News and World Report. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). 
  4. ^ "History of the Notre Dame College of Law". History of the Notre Dame College of Law. Notre Dame Law Review. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Century of Law at Notre Dame" (PDF). Century of Law at Notre Dame. Rev. Philip S. Moore, C.S.C. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Here's How We Ranked The Best Law Schools In America". Business Insider. Business Insider. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Grads of These Law Schools Get the Most Judicial Clerkships". U.S. News Education. U.S. News. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Supreme Court Clerkship Placement, 2003 Through 2013 Terms". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Notre Dame Employment" (PDF). 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "ATL Top 50 Law Schools". Above the Law. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 27 September 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Morse, Robert (12 June 2014). "Grads of These Law Schools Get the Most Judicial Clerkships". US News & World Report. Retrieved 20 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Notre Dame Tuition and Fees". 
  16. ^ [1] Archived January 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  17. ^ Lucille Davy, Office of the Governor of New Jersey. Accessed December 6, 2007. Archived May 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  18. ^ Driscoll, Sharon. "John Henry Merryman: Art Law Pioneer and Much-Loved Colleague". Stanford University. Stanford Law School. Retrieved 3 August 2016. 

External links[edit]