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History of the University of Dayton School of Law

Our History

keller-hall-ext-spring-hero1250x750.jpgThe School of Law is a part of the University of Dayton, which was founded in 1850 and is recognized as a top-tier national university and one of the 10 best Catholic universities in the nation. As a Catholic, Marianist institution, the University of Dayton is committed to producing graduates who uphold the highest professional standards.

First established as the University of Dayton College of Law, the School of Law opened in 1922 under the guidance of Dean John C. Shea, the former first assistant director of law for the City of Dayton. Reflecting the Catholic Marianist tradition of inclusivity and acceptance, the college’s first class was comprised of a diverse group of students, including two women and one African American.

From its founding, the School of Law was known for its focus on teaching and academic excellence. Every member of the first class passed the bar exam on the first attempt, with bar passage rates remaining extremely high for the next decade. Despite the success of its graduates, the economic turmoil of the Great Depression led the law school to close its doors in 1935 with the expectation of reopening when times improved.

Nearly four decades later, in September 1974, this expectation became a reality, and the school, renamed, the "University of Dayton School of Law" reopened. Since reopening, the School of Law has become known nationally for innovative programs like one of the nation's first online hybrid J.D. programs and its Leadership Honors Program.

Dayton Law believes in providing students with practical legal training through opportunities like its highly respected Legal Profession Program, its Human Rights and Hanley Sustainability collaboratives, classes formed in partnership with Copeland and LexisNexis, its Program In Law and Technology, and its externship course and law clinics.

The School of Law continues to be an innovative institution dedicated to preparing future lawyers with the legal knowledge, skills and values needed to help others and make a true impact upon the world.


School of Law

Keller Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2760