The idea for a law school at Villanova first surfaced in the 1920s, but was not realized until the physical expansion that took place at the University after World War II. In 1953, under the presidency of Father Francis X. N. McGuire, Eugene Lester Garey, a prominent New York lawyer, bequeathed to the University $1.2 million to establish a new law school. Harold Gill Reuschlein was appointed the first dean and in 1957, Garey Hall, designed especially for the law school, was opened and dedicated. The School of Law was the first law school under Catholic auspices to be awarded a chapter of the Order of Coif, a national honor society devoted to the encouragement of high standards of legal scholarship, with chapters in leading schools of law throughout the country.
The School of Law’s distinctive mission draws upon the Catholic tradition emphasizing the unique value of individual human lives and the endowment of free will. In addition, it upholds a tradition of academic freedom that draws upon the thought of Saint Augustine to emphasize the value of critical, searching inquiry and open debate; is inspired by Saint Thomas More, whose principled resistance to corruption has been an exemplar of integrity for centuries; and, motivated by Saint Ives, who taught that a lawyer’s vocation must include a sense of responsibility for the poor. The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. The School of Law has created a reputation for excellence in its curriculum and the academic achievements of its faculty and students.