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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,[6][7] NDLS is ranked 21st among the nation's "Top 100 Law Schools" by U.S. News & World Report [8] and 18th by Above The Law in their annual Top 50 Law School Rankings [9] It is ranked 8th in graduates attaining federal judicial clerkships[10] and 17th in graduates attaining Supreme Court clerkships (tied with Cornell Law School).[11]

Notre Dame Law School
University of Notre Dame coat of arms.svg
Parent schoolUniversity of Notre Dame
Religious affiliationRoman Catholic (Congregation of Holy Cross)
School typePrivate
Parent endowment$13.1 billion[1]
DeanG. Marcus Cole
LocationNotre Dame, Indiana, 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
Enrollment599 (2016)[2]
Faculty153 [3]
USNWR ranking21 (2020)[4]
Bar pass rate89.29% (2017)[5]
Notre Dame Law School logo.svg

According to Notre Dame's 2018 ABA-required disclosures, 82% of the Class of 2018 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment ten months after graduation. 35.6% of the Class of 2018 accepted positions at Large Firms, while 7.8% accepted Federal Clerkships. 17.1% of Class of 2018 Graduates accepted public service positions. [12] [13]

It offers the only American Bar Association–approved, year-long, study-abroad program, which is based in London.[14]




The Notre Dame Law School opened in February 1869. 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 eraEdit

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 centuryEdit

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.

In 1970, Graciela Olivarez became the first woman and Latina to graduate from Notre Dame Law School. The next class to graduate women would be 1973.


New resources for scholarshipEdit

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.

Faculty hiring momentumEdit

In recent years, the expanding Notre Dame Law faculty has attracted a number of accomplished scholars from other top law schools. In 2009, University of Virginia Law School Professor Stephen Smith left a tenured position to join the Notre Dame Law faculty.[15] In 2012, Professor Barry Cushman, the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of History at the University of Virginia, joined the NDLS faculty.[16] In 2017, it was announced that private law theorist Paul Miller from McGill University would join the Notre Dame faculty. Samuel Bray, a remedies theorist previously teaching at UCLA law, joined the faculty in 2018. During the same period, long-time Notre Dame professors have been invited for visiting faculty positions at Harvard, University of Michigan and the University of Chicago law schools.

Expanded urban presence in DC and ChicagoEdit

In 2013, new space was secured for the Notre Dame Law in Chicago program, which allows ND Law students to pursue their studies from an urban campus in downtown Chicago ("in the Loop").[17] In 2015, in partnership with Kirkland & Ellis, the law school debuted its Notre Dame Law in DC program, which allows students to spend a semester studying in Washington, DC.[18]

Admissions and rankingsEdit

Biolchini Hall in winter

Admission to NDLS is highly selective. For the class entering in the fall of 2018, the median LSAT score was 165 and the median undergraduate GPA was 3.71.[19]

Notre Dame Law School is ranked 21st among the nation's "Top 100 Law Schools" by U.S. News & World Report and 18th by Above The Law in their annual Top 50 Law School Rankings.[20][21] The law School is a top 10 runner up for Elite Litigation boutique hiring.[22]


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.

Job and clerkship placementEdit

In the class of 2018, 168 out of 205 graduates (82%) secured full-time, long-term employment requiring passage of the bar exam within ten months of graduation.[12] The top 3 most popular destinations for graduates in the class of 2018 were Illinois (41), New York (20), and California (18). Furthermore, 35.6% of graduates in the class of 2018 found employment in large law firms (100+ attorneys) and 7.8% pursued federal clerkships.[23] 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.[24]


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.[25]


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.[26]

Notable alumniEdit

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 facultyEdit

Notable current faculty include:

Notable former faculty include:

Law journalsEdit

Notre Dame Law School publishes five student-run journals[29]:


  1. ^ Lorin, Janet (24 September 2018). "Notre Dame's Endowment Value Hits Record $13.1 Billion". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  2. ^ "ABA Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). ABA Standard 509 Information Report. ABA. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  3. ^ "University of Notre Dame". Best Law Schools. US News and World Report. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Best Law Schools". U.S. News & World Report.
  5. ^ "Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF).
  6. ^ "History of the Notre Dame College of Law". History of the Notre Dame College of Law. Notre Dame Law Review. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Century of Law at Notre Dame" (PDF). Century of Law at Notre Dame. Rev. Philip S. Moore, C.S.C. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Grads of These Law Schools Get the Most Judicial Clerkships". U.S. News Education. U.S. News. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Supreme Court Clerkship Placement, 2003 Through 2013 Terms". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Stephen Smith". University of Notre Dame Law School. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Professor Barry Cushman to Join the Faculty of Notre Dame Law School". University of Notre Dame News. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Notre Dame Law in Chicago Has Room to Move in New Loop Quarters". Notre Dame News. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Notre Dame Law in DC Set for Spring Launch". University of Notre Dame NEws. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Notre Dame, University of - 2018 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). Notre Dame Law School. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "EMPLOYMENT SUMMARY FOR 2013 GRADUATES" (PDF). University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  24. ^ Morse, Robert (12 June 2014). "Grads of These Law Schools Get the Most Judicial Clerkships". US News & World Report. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  25. ^ "Notre Dame Tuition and Fees".
  26. ^ [1] Archived January 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Lucille Davy, Office of the Governor of New Jersey. Accessed December 6, 2007. Archived May 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Driscoll, Sharon. "John Henry Merryman: Art Law Pioneer and Much-Loved Colleague". Stanford University. Stanford Law School. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  29. ^ "Journals". Notre Dame Law School. Retrieved 7 August 2019.

External linksEdit