Located in Omaha, Nebraska in view of the Missouri River and the Loess Hills, Creighton University School of Law is a Jesuit Catholic institution educating aspiring attorneys in the theory, practice and ethics of lawyering for over 100 years. Consistent with its mission, the Law School's motto is "educating for service and justice" and its goal is to produce attorneys who not only meticulously care for their clients' needs, but also recognize their own over-arching duty to the profession and society at large.
In 1903, Creighton's president, Rev. Michael Dowling, S.J., began formulating plans for a Department of Law. He sought advice from the local Bar and the University?s major benefactor and namesake, Count John Creighton. The Count is reported to have said: "Why should I lend my support to such a project when it is common knowledge that all lawyers are scoundrels?" Father Dowling responded, "that is one of the best reasons why Creighton University should undertake the education of your men for the legal profession." The support was forthcoming and on October 3, 1904, twenty-three law students were welcomed as the first class. This first group of students was welcomed by a dean, an associate dean, and 31 practicing attorneys who donated their time to teach.
Much has changed in the past century, yet much has remained the same. Coursework for first-year law students at Creighton in 1904 included constitutional law, torts, property, contracts, criminal law, and moot court. That same curriculum is reflected in law schools across the country today with the exception of criminal law, the inclusion of civil procedure, and the addition of a moot court component of the legal writing class. In 1904, the faculty consisted of a dean, associate dean and 31 practicing attorneys who donated their time to teach. Today, 32 full-time professors who are experts and published authors in their fields and who are dedicated to training Creighton's 400 students.
These 400 students are among the best in the nation. Drawn from over 40 states, 4 foreign countries and 160 undergraduate institutions, they move into judicial clerkships and jobs at top law firms in Omaha, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City and beyond. With three fully functioning courtrooms and a state-of-the-art wireless technology Law Library, students leave Creighton prepared to enter practice and succeed. Anchored in its humble beginnings a century ago, Creighton has emerged as a leader in Catholic legal education and is moving forward boldly into the 21st Century. In 2009, the law school again hosted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as he taught a supreme court seminar to second and third-year students, celebrated third-year student Joseph Larson as one of 15 students nationwide selected for a Burton Award for Excellence in legal writing, and sent a student from the Milton R. Abrahams Legal Clinic to argue in front of the Nebraska Court of Appeals.
Creighton is one of fourteen Jesuit Catholic law schools in the U.S. One out of every ten American law students is enrolled in a Jesuit law school. Situated primarily in urban centers, these schools were traditionally among the first to provide women and minorities access to high-quality legal education. With a reputation for rigorous study, Jesuit law schools value the pursuit of academic excellence and preparation for public service.
Three years after its founding, Creighton's Law School was granted full accreditation to the Association of American Law Schools in 1907, becoming the second religiously-affiliated law school (along with Georgetown) to achieve accreditation in the AALS. In 1924, Creighton, St. Louis, and Georgetown became the first religiously-affiliated law schools to be accredited by the American Bar Association.
Like all Jesuit schools, Creighton adheres to the tradition of cura personalis, Latin for care of the whole person. Cura Personalis has been a hallmark of Jesuit education since it was culled from the Ratio Studiorum in 1599 – the first treatise of the Order on academics. Basically, for the mind to flourish and intellectual curiosity to thrive, the person must develop as a whole. In practice, this means that professors spend more time with students, counseling them, cajoling them, and challenging them to go farther than they think they can. The faculty does not hold office hours. They have an open-door policy. Students are welcome to come visit, ask questions, test theories, or just chat. Creighton can achieve this because it decided to be a small, highly interactive law school. Consequently, students are not a number to us; they are people.