Dakota Datebook

School of Law

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The School of Law at the University of North Dakota has a long history. Founded in 1899, it was the first professional school to operate within UND. In 1904, admission standards were actually lowered so students were only required to have two years of high school. By 1909, incoming law students needed a high school certificate, and the program of legal education was lengthened to three years. By 1917, incoming students needed two years of collegiate study, and the law school instituted new program and degree options.


The School of Law was approved by the American Bar Association in 1923, and has been continuously accredited since then. Yet on this date in 1928, law students were complaining about the level and quality of work required of them—though not in the way you might think. The Grand Forks Herald reported, “Officials at the University of North Dakota are confronted with the unusual situation of a student body demanding stricter standards of scholarship and higher requirements for graduation.”


The students demanded this “in a petition presented to the administrative committee and signed by virtually every member of the School of Law.” They asked for a ten percent “boost” in the standard of work required, and wanted “exclusive emphasis” on the final exam paper. They also wanted to remove the possibility of marking papers “condition”—those, they believed, should receive failing marks.


They also asked that a rule requiring compulsory attendance in classes be abolished, stating that “only the satisfactory method of securing faithful attendance to class room work is by strictly enforcing the standards of scholarship. Artificial compulsion detracts from the real purpose of the school work …”


All of this was suggested to improve the caliber of the work done there by both faculty and students. Most of the faculty was said to agree with the students’ demands. And all of this was “in keeping with developments in better laws all over the country.”


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker




Grand Forks Herald, Apr 23, 1928


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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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