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Dayton Docket

Trip to U.S. Supreme Court ends with Swearing-In

Becky McClennen ’11 stood at the podium trying to take it all in.

She wanted to remember the smallest of details from the grain of the wood she was now touching to the red of the curtain behind the bench.

McClennen’s view was one only a select few attorneys get to see.

She was about to make a motion in front of the United States Supreme Court.

“That was just an unbelievable experience,” McClennen says. “It ranks up there as one of the top life experiences.”

McClennen was appearing before the Court in April 2024 tasked with making a motion to swear-in 24 University of Dayton School of Law alumni and friends of the law school to the Supreme Court Bar. After reading the names and states of all 24 applicants, her motion was granted by the Court. The group then took the oath in front of the justices.

“You’re almost speechless with the experience and then there’s this excitement that I can’t believe that just happened,” McClennen says of what it’s like for alumni to be sworn in before the court. “You’re sitting only a few feet from all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is close enough to make eye contact. Each of those names is read and that alumnus stands up to be recognized. All nine justices heard the name and looked at each alumnus as they stood.”

McClennen, who is President of the School of Law Alumni Association and an Adjunct Professor, was herself sworn into the Supreme Court Bar in 2017 on a previous trip hosted by the University of Dayton School of Law. As a member of that bar, she is able to appear before the Supreme Court, which is why she was the one making the motion on this trip.

“I was doing my best to convey to people what it means to go through this,” McClennen says of being sworn into the Supreme Court Bar. “Really enjoy your moment. Take the time to look around the Supreme Court. Take the time to feel the emotion of what’s going on.”

Those on the trip also got to see the Supreme Court read three opinions.

“It was awe inspiring to see the justices line up and take their seats and see how they presented themselves and interacted with one another,” says Interim UDSL Dean Victoria VanZandt, who was also part of the trip.

Dean VanZandt says along with the experience of seeing the nation’s highest Court in action, the visit was an opportunity to interact with a wide-range of alumni. 

“I saw former students from many different classes,” Dean VanZandt says. “This was a great way to connect with all of them over an event they will always remember.”

McClennen hopes other UDSL alumni and friends of the law school will consider making the trip the next time the law school holds one.

“It is an unbelievable honor and a priceless experience,” McClennen says.

A date has not been set yet for the next trip, but if you would like to get on the waiting list for it, you can email lawalumni@udayton.edu. You must have been admitted to a state bar at least three years before and be in good standing with that bar to apply.

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