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Valparaiso University School of Law

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Valparaiso University School of Law
Location Valparaiso, IN, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
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Valparaiso University School of Law is located in Valparaiso, IN

The Valparaiso University School of Law (known colloquially as "Valpo Law") is a law school located on the campus of Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. After a failed attempt to transfer the law school to Middle Tennessee State University, Valparaiso University School of Law announced that it will permanently close in 2020.


In the late 1870s, local attorney and Colonel Mark L. DeMotte, a resident of Valparaiso, Indiana who was a Union officer in the Civil War (and was highly regarded as an attorney in Northwest Indiana), decided that the importance of formalized legal education deserved a new department for the study of law at the local college (the Northern Indiana Normal School, to be subsequently rechristened as Valparaiso University). Convincing college president Henry Baker Brown that such training was crucial to the quality of legal representation throughout the country, Colonel DeMotte founded a program for legal study that, in 1879, would become the Northern Indiana Law School.

The law school opened for classes in fall 1879 with nine students and three faculty members, including Col. DeMotte, who became the school's first dean. During his appointment, Col. DeMotte developed a core of coursework that remains the foundation of legal education today. Tuition was set at $10 per term. The School of Law was among the first dozen in the nation to admit both men and women, and had two women among its first nine students.

At the start of the 20th century, 21 years after its founding, the Northern Indiana Law School had an enrollment of 150 students and was reportedly the largest law school in Indiana. An academic term at the school was originally 50 weeks, then was shortened to 40 weeks, although the only holiday was Christmas Day.

In 1905, the law school became part of Valparaiso University and was thus officially renamed to Valparaiso University School of Law. Valpo Law received its American Bar Association accreditation in 1929 and was admitted into membership in the Association of American Law Schools in 1930. Valpo Law is the thirty-eighth oldest accredited law school in the United States .

Valpo Law got a new home in Wesemann Hall upon the building's completion in 1986. Interestingly, the building is adjacent to Heritage Hall, the oldest building on Valparaiso University's campus, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and houses Valpo's Law Clinic, where students provide free legal service for deserving members of the local community.

In the 2003-2004 academic year, Valpo Law celebrated its 125th anniversary with a series of lectures, public speakers, and on- and off-campus events, culminating with a dinner celebration in May 2004 at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago which featured former U.S. president George H.W. Bush as its keynote speaker.


The School of Law offers the traditional three-year full-time program, an accelerated two-and-a-half year program, and a five-year part-time program toward the Juris Doctor degree, a Master of Laws degree program, and the following dual degree programs: JD/MBA, JD/MALS, JD/MA (psychology), JD/MS International Commerce & Policy, and JD/MS Sports Administration.

Law students perform 7,600 hours of clinic and 3,000 hours of pro bono service annually, and over eighty percent of Valpo law alumni pass the Indiana bar on the first attempt.

The law school has a 87.8% job placement rate for graduates within nine months of graduation. The school currently has 523 enrolled students.

Notable alumni

There are over 4,500 graduates of the Valparaiso University School of Law.Template:Fact Some notable graduates include:

  • The late novelist Erle Stanley Gardner, who gained international acclaim for his depiction of the legal profession through the persona of defense attorney Perry Mason, received his only formal legal education at Valparaiso University. He attended Valpo's School of Law for approximately a month, was suspended from school when his interest in boxing became a demonstration, then settled in California where he became a self-taught attorney and passed the state bar exam.
  • Richard G. Hatcher, the first African-American mayor of Gary, Indiana and one of the first black mayors elected in a major Northern industrial city, is a 1959 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law.


  • Faculty and students of the School of Law team to stage an annual musical that raises funds for the school's Law Clinic.

External links