Postcard views of Notre Dame


Law Building at Notre Dame in a vintage postcard, circa 1931.

Law Building at Notre Dame in a vintage postcard, circa 1931.



The following description of the Notre Dame Law School is from the superb guide book, Notre Dame, the Official Campus Guide, by Damaine Vonada. It's available in the book section at:



Just as Alumni Hall designates the start of the residential side of South Quad, the Law School is the gateway to its academic side. Architecturally and geographically, the two buildings complement each other perfectly, for they share and define one of the most pivotal locations on campus: the place where Main Quad, South Quad, and Notre Dame Avenue all come together. As a result, the Law School and Alumni Hall form the university's own Bosporus and Dardanelles, a singular collegiate Gothic passage-way linking the rest of the world to the life, lore, and legacy at the heart of Notre Dame,

The law building predates Alumni Hall by only a year, (1931) another Maginnis and Walsh creation replete with lancet arches, trefoil windows, and other Gothic trappings. As the school itself grew in size and statue, this impressive structure received two additions, but happily the architects - Ellerbe and Associates in the early 1970s and Ellerbe Becket in the mid-1980s - did not unduly compromise the character of its original design. Two of the Law School's most interesting features are its statues of Christ the King and Sir Thomas More. Located on the south tower, the Christ statue is a fitting counterpart to Alumni Hall's "Joe College," for taken together they represent the religious and academic aspects of Notre Dame. Sir Thomas More, of course, was the great English lawyer who was beheaded because he refused to renounce his beliefs when Henry VIll broke with Rome. You'll find More's statue at the Law School's west entrance. The ceremonial robe and neck chain he is wearing indicate his importance as England's Lord Chancellor, while the book in his right hand is simply titled Law.

More's assertion that he was God's servant first and the king's second emphasizes the deep Roman Catholic roots of the Notre Dame Law School. It is, in fact, the oldest Catholic law school in the United States, having been started in 1869 at the behest of the ever-aspiring Father Sorin. The first classes, held in the Main Building, yielded only a handful of graduates. But in 1883, Colonel William Hoynes, who had practiced law in Chicago, took over as the law department's first dean and began the daunting task of developing a worthy law program. Hoynes moved the school to Sorin Hall, where he lived as one of Notre Dame's legendary bachelor dons. The move was not merely a matter of convenience, for the irrepressible Hoynes had to lecture on the law several times each day because the law library lacked the materials for proper research. Fortunately, research is no longer a problem for Notre Dame's Law School. In 1973, the opening of the Kresge Law Library (largely funded by the Kresge Foundation of Troy, Michigan) and a generous collection endowment from the John P. Murphy Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, provided the basis for what is now one of the most respected and technologically advanced law research centers in the United States.

The law library reinforces a reputation for academic excellence that had been developed under the leadership of Dean Joseph O'Meara in the 1950s and 1960s. Notre Dame's Law School currently ranks among the best in the nation, and it enjoys one of the highest percentages anywhere of graduates who pass the bar exam on their first try. In addition to its demanding, "no-nonsense" curriculum and high teaching standards, the Law School is widely recognized for its strong emphasis on ethics, human rights, and professionalism. Ranked among the top 25 law schools in the nation, it also has been a leader in offering international study programs and joint degrees in business and engineering.



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