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University of Notre Dame Law School

published November 14, 2008

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
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( 188 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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Established in 1869, the University of Notre Dame Law School is among the oldest law schools in the nation and the first law school established on the campus of a Catholic university. The school’s academic programs prepare students for an array of legal careers in all jurisdictions in the United States, as well as the practice of law internationally. Yet, beyond mere professional competence, a Notre Dame legal education focuses on issues of justice and values inspired by two traditions—the Catholic tradition and the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Notre Dame Law School’s national program aims to educate men and women to become lawyers of extraordinary professional competence who possess a partisanship for justice, an ability to respond to human need, and compassion for their clients and colleagues. Methods of instruction are both traditional and innovative. The school’s curriculum includes comprehensive courses and programs which cross traditional course lines and cover broad areas of practice.

Though the law school has adapted and modified its curriculum to reflect the changing nature of the profession, it has been steadfast in its emphasis on teaching and developing lawyers who are committed to effectively serving their clients and bringing honor to the profession. Committed to the most demanding standards of scholarly inquiry, it seeks to illustrate the possibilities of dialogue between and the integration of reason and faith. Through its teaching, the school tries to prepare students to practice law with competence and compassion and to contribute, as leaders in the bar, the academy, and government, to the development and reform of an increasingly complex and internationalized legal and regulatory framework.

Student-Faculty Ratio


Admission Criteria




25th-75th Percentile






The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the fall 2011 entering class.

*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.

Admission Statistics

Approximate number of applications


Number accepted


Percentage accepted


The above admission details are based on fall 2011 data.

Class Ranking and Grades

The Law School does not rank students, either internally or externally, except that the dean may notify students who are in the top 10 percent of their class as of the end of each academic year of this status.

Grading at the law school is governed by the Hoynes Code. Grades are not calculated on a numerical basis, but are assigned values for calculating grade-point average, according to the following grading system:

Letter Grade






















The faculty regards A as superior, B as good, C as indicating satisfactory work, D as unsatisfactory with credit, and F as failure. Therefore, a C at Notre Dame is considered a respectable grade.

Other Grades


Incomplete.  A temporary grade.  The coursework must be completed and the Incomplete changed prior to the end of the next semester’s final examination period; otherwise, the Incomplete will be changed to an F.


Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.  For selected courses.


The Pass/Fail option is limited to two elective courses and may be used only with the permission of the professor teaching the particular course.  These two courses may not be taken in the same semester. 

Grade normalization (Curve)

Effective academic year 2011-2012, the law school implemented a grade normalization policy, with mandatory mean ranges (for any course with 10 or more students) and mandatory distribution ranges (for any course with 25 or more students).

The mean ranges are as follows:

1L Required Courses Mean: 3.25 to 3.30











Large Upper-Level Courses (> 25 students) Mean: 3.25 to 3.35











Small Upper-Level Courses (10 to 24 students)
Mean: 3.15 to 3.45
Distribution: none

To maintain academic good standing, a first-year student must achieve a minimum GPA of 1.500 for the first semester and 1.750 for the second semester. Second- and third-year students must achieve a minimum semester GPA of 2.000.

The minimum cumulative GPA required for graduation is 2.000.


Graduation honors at Notre Dame Law School are based on grade point average, which is computed by including all courses taken at the school.



Dean’s Honor Roll

GPA of 3.6

summa cum laude

GPA of 3.8

magna cum laude

GPA of 3.6

cum laude

GPA of 3.4


Name of Award


Dean’s Award

Awarded for the highest grade in a course

Colonel William J. Hoynes Award

Based on GPA and leadership

Dean Joseph O’Meara Award

Based on GPA and leadership

Farabaugh Prize

Based on GPA and leadership

Legal Writing Award

Awarded for excellence in legal writing

Trial Advocacy Awards

Several different awards for excellence in trial advocacy

Dean Link Award

Awarded for outstanding service in social justice

Dean Konop Award

Awarded for outstanding service in legal aid and defense

ABA Negotiation Award

Awarded for excellence in the art of negotiation

Dean William O. McLean Award

Awarded for outstanding service to the law school

Nathan Burke Memorial Award

Awarded for the best paper in copyright law

Smith-Doheny Legal Ethics Award

Awarded for the best paper in legal ethics

Indiana Bar Foundation Award

Awarded to students intending to practice in Indiana

Six additional awards are presented by the law school for excellence in writing, along with two additional leadership awards.


The Notre Dame Law Review, founded in 1925 and known until 1982 as the Notre Dame Lawyer, is edited and published five times per year by students at Notre Dame Law School. It affords qualified students an invaluable opportunity for training in precise analysis of legal problems and in clear and cogent presentation of legal issues. The journal contains articles and lectures by eminent members of the legal profession as well as comments and notes by members of its staff and maintains a tradition of excellence.

The Journal of College and University Law, published by Notre Dame Law School and the National Association of College and University Attorneys, is the only law review in the United States dedicated exclusively to the law of higher education. Headed by both faculty editors and a student editor, the journal is published three times per year.

The Journal of Legislation is published by Notre Dame Law School students. It contains articles by both public policy figures and distinguished members of the legal community concerning either existing or proposed legislation, suggestions for legislative change, and public policy matters.

The notre Dame Journal of Law, ethics & Public Policy is unique among legal periodicals. It directly analyzes law and public policy from an ethical perspective and consequently strengthens Notre Dame Law School’s commitment to moral and religious values in legal education by translating traditional Judeo-Christian principles into imaginative yet workable proposals for legislative and judicial reform. It publishes two issues annually. It devotes one issue to a single topic of public concern and the other issue to any topic related to the journal’s mission.

The American Journal of Jurisprudence, founded in 1956 by the Natural Law Institute at Notre Dame Law School as the Natural Law Forum and renamed the American Journal of Jurisprudence in 1970, publishes articles and review essays that critically examine the moral foundations of law and legal systems and explore current and historical issues in ethics, jurisprudence, and legal (including constitutional) theory.

The International Law Society (ILS) hosted its first annual symposium in 2010 and its great success established the Notre Dame Journal of International, Comparative, and Human Rights Law (JICH). This new journal is designed around a new approach that addresses concerns for quality, accessibility, and efficient use of resources. In 2011, ILS hosted its second annual symposium which achieved even greater success and contributed in large part to the first issue of JICH. The journal will focus on international law.

Moot Court

Notre Dame Law School’s moot court program is conducted by students and coordinates intramural and intercollegiate competitions in its appellate, trial, and international divisions.

The Moot Court Appellate Division provides an opportunity for students to develop the art of appellate advocacy through a series of competitive arguments. First-year students are required to brief and argue at least one appellate case. Each year, a number of students participate in the second-year program of the Notre Dame Moot Court. These arguments are presented before courts whose membership includes faculty members, practicing attorneys, and third-year students. After successful completion of the second-year rounds, the highest-ranking participants are invited to represent the law school in national competitions in their third year.

In recent years, Notre Dame Law School has participated in the National Moot Court Competition sponsored by the Young Lawyers Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The school also sponsors an annual event called the Moot Court Showcase Argument, in which the most successful third-year students demonstrate their ability in oral argument before a mock Supreme Court composed of eminent federal and state judges.

Students also may participate in the Notre Dame Law School Trial Competition, from which students are selected to represent the law school in the annual National Trial Competition. This competition is sponsored by the Young Lawyers Association of the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Bar Foundation.

Notre Dame Law School’s Moot Court International Division allows students in their second and third years to prepare for and participate in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Students are selected to represent the law school in the national competition held each spring on the basis of interscholastic competition in the fall. The Jessup Competition provides an opportunity for students to develop the art of oral advocacy in the increasingly important area of international law. In recent years, its topics have included international pollution, nuclear proliferation, the rights of prisoners of war, and law of the sea.

Clinical Programs

In the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic, second- and third-year law students provide free legal services to individuals and non-profit organizations. The students are trained and closely supervised by members of the Notre Dame Law School faculty. In addition to representing clients, the Legal Aid Clinic’s students and faculty serve the community, the legal profession, and the academy through a variety of educational and law reform efforts.

The Legal Aid Clinic represents clients in both state and federal courts and administrative agencies. The clinic also provides transactional lawyering services that do not involve litigation. The subject matters include mental health, consumer protection, immigrant rights, housing, and disability benefits.

The Legal Aid Clinic is engaged in the following primary project areas: Community Development Project, Economic Justice Project, Mediation Project and Mental Health Project.

The new Intellectual Property and entrepreneurship Clinic is available to assist clients beginning this January 2012. The purpose of the clinic is to provide students with valuable experience in applying substantive intellectual property law to client problems, and to offer assistance to local businesses and entrepreneurs. Students will work under the close supervision of the Clinic Director, Jodi Clifford, who has substantial private practice experience.

Placement Facts

Starting Salaries (2010 Graduates employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile)


Median in the private sector


Median in public service


Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation


Graduates known to be employed nine months after graduation


Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates employed In


Law Firms


Business and Industry




Judicial Clerkships


Public Interest Organizations








The law school offers students a variety of externships that allow students to obtain valuable hands-on learning experiences.

The Appalachia externship is a one credit academic externship. Students spend their fall break or spring break providing pro bono legal services at the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky.

The Refugee and Asylum Law externship Program is a spring semester practical training course offered by Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) for law students interested in immigration law.

The Intercollegiate externship provides an opportunity for law students to gain practical experience and academic credit in intercollegiate athletics administration through a classroom component taught by faculty and senior-level administrator-attorneys from Athletics and via non-classroom externship work.

The Legal externship—Public Defender involves assisting actual public defenders in representing indigent clients at the St. Joseph County Courthouse—Trial and Misdemeanor Division.

The law school offers Summer externships. Students volunteer legal work of six weeks or more undertaken during the summer months in any court, agency, nonprofit organization, or public law office.


The law school offers London Internship Program. Credit shall be given for participation in the London Internship Program in accordance with the policies and procedures developed and maintained by the Director of the London Law Program.

Summer Human Rights Internships

The Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) provides internship funding for up to three JD students who seek unpaid international internships in the field of human rights law.

Student organizations

American Civil Liberties Union
American Constitution Society
Asian Law Students Association
Black Law Students Association
Business Law Forum
Christian Legal Society
Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity
The Environmental Law Society
The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
Hispanic Law Students Association
Intellectual Property Law Society
International Human Rights Society
International Law Society
Irish Law Society
J. Reuben Clark Law Society
Jus Vitae of Notre Dame
Legal Voices for Children & Youth
Married Law Students Organization
Military Law Students Association
Native American Law Students Association
Phi Alpha Delta
The Public Interest Law Forum
Social Justice Forum
Sports, Communications and Entertainment Law Forum
St. Thomas More Society
Student Bar Association
Women’s Legal Forum

Id. pg. 24, 26 pg. 23 pg 29
Id. pg 16, 35

Alternative Summary

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published November 14, 2008

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 188 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.