The Commencement of Notre Dame Law School’s Class of 2024

Author: Denise Wager

Notre Dame Law School honored the Class of 2024 on Saturday, May 18. The class included 186 J.D., 13 LL.M., and two J.S.D. graduates.

2024 Notre Dame Law School Commencement Prayer Service
2024 Notre Dame Law School Commencement Prayer Service

On Saturday, the celebration began with the class Prayer Service at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Law students played an integral role in the service, selecting readings and music, as well as serving as readers, petitioners, and as the cantor.

In his homily to the class, Rev. William Dailey C.S.C., adjunct professor of law and the Law School’s chaplain, reflected on the role of lawyers in society, saying that their work is not just about personal gain or intimidation, but about serving the common good, emphasizing the importance of following Jesus' example of serving others, and encouraging the graduates to do the same in their legal careers.

Notre Dame Law School Class of 2024
Notre Dame Law School Class of 2024

In concluding words to the family and friends in attendance, Rev. Patrick Reidy C.S.C., associate professor of law, said, “These men and women have been an invaluable treasure to us. Thank you for sharing them and for entrusting them to our care these past few years. Know of our tremendous pride in sending them off into the world.”

After the prayer service, law graduates gathered for a class photo on the steps of the University of Notre Dame’s Main Building and then proceeded to Purcell Pavilion for the Law School’s 154th Diploma and Hooding Ceremony.

A Dedication to Justice 

The Class of 2024 selected Professor of Law Jay Tidmarsh as the Distinguished Professor of the Year and to give the commencement address.

2024 Distinguished Professor of the Year Jay Tidmarsh
2024 Distinguished Professor of the Year Jay Tidmarsh

In his speech, he urged the graduates to remember the events that took place around the Law School, both in the classroom and in the Law School community. He encouraged them to recount these stories and share these experiences with each other before they part ways.

“These are the stories that will bind this community throughout the years. This community that you have created, and that you are today,” said Tidmarsh.

He touched on the dramatic changes the graduating class will encounter in the coming years. He emphasized that regardless of their career paths, they will solve some problems for which they have been trained, but they will also be faced to tackle new problems and devise innovative solutions for issues, problems, and events that have not yet occurred. He pointed out that while change is inevitable, it does not inherently lead to progress.

“Your challenge is to push that rock of justice a little bit further up the hill and to do it in a way that honors our traditions as lawyers, while still making sure that those who you are privileged to serve that their lives are improved,” said Tidmarsh.

An ND Law Graduate smiling

He expressed his hope that the faculty had provided students with the tools, ideas, and foundation needed to engineer solutions for a more just world. However, he urged them to also seek support and inspiration from their parents, families, friends, spouses, and each other.

“We the faculty may have asked the questions to start the conversations, but you were the ones that gave each other the answers,” said Tidmarsh. “You had faith in the person on your left and on your right and they had faith in you. You held each other up. You made each other sharper. You made each other better. So as a class, you have always been and you must always be dedicated to justice, to doing the right thing for the right way for the right reason.”

In concluding words to the class, he said, “As you leave this place take with you Notre Dame. Take with you this community that you have created as a compass. For who better to have spent these last three years with than with each other. For me, who better to have spent these last three years with than you.”

Practice Law, Practice Love

ND Law Dean Marcus Cole delivers his charge to the Class of 2024
ND Law Dean Marcus Cole delivers his charge to the Class of 2024

G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law, conferred degrees and placed the doctoral hood over each graduate as they walked across the stage. He then delivered a charge to the class.

“As a Notre Dame lawyer, you are uniquely equipped to change the world. A world that is desperately in need of the change that only you can bring. Your legal training at Notre Dame gives you power, power that not everyone has. Your training has equipped you with special skills that will allow you to act on behalf of others. And to fight for their rights,” said Cole.

He emphasized that the most important skill learned at Notre Dame is the ability to listen, noting that effective lawyers must listen to clients, opponents, and all sides of arguments. This ability, he pointed out, is essential for justice and is precisely what the world needs.

He noted that while legal training at Notre Dame positions students to secure a law license, it should also provide more than that—it should give them a license to practice love.

“If there was ever a time when the world needed a different kind of lawyer, it's now. If there was ever a time for lawyers to be active, vocal, and brave, it's now. If there was ever a time for lawyers to listen carefully, it's now. If there was ever a time for lawyers to practice love, it's now,” said Cole.

He reminded the graduates that regardless of the area of law they choose to practice or the community they choose to live in, they should not forget where they come from.

“Three years ago, you came here to Notre Dame. Today, you come from Notre Dame. You are one of us. That should mean that the world is going to be a better place because of you.” said Cole.

Notre Dame Law graduate receiving her hood
Notre Dame Law graduate being hooded by Dean Cole.

He then invited family and friends to extend their hands over the graduates while he offered a prayer. He concluded with, “This is our prayer for you. That when you go out there for the rest of your lives, you will see the face of God in everyone you encounter, whether they be clients, opponents, companions, or strangers. That's what it means to be a Notre Dame Lawyer. A different kind of lawyer. Yes, practice law. But practice love.”


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