On Dec. 5, 1842, Professor David McDonald gave his first lecture to the class of the new Law Department of Indiana University, the ninth law school in the nation and first state law school in the Midwest. There is no record of how many students were in that first class, but there were five in the first graduating class in 1844.
Through the early years, the Law Department flourished under the direction of McDonald and other distinguished jurists, and following the Civil War enrollment soared, graduating 32 in 1871, more than half of the total graduates of the university.
In 1889, the trustees reestablished the law department as a law school, naming David D. Banta as its first dean. The Association of American Law schools was formed in 1900, and Indiana Law was one of the 25 charter members of this group. The law school enrollment stood at 125 students in 1900, and there were three faculty and a law library of 4,000 volumes. In 1908, Indiana Law moved to Maxwell Hall, where it would remain until the mid-1950s.
Progressive from the outset, Indiana Law graduated its first woman, Tamar Althouse, in 1892, its first Asian-American, Masuji Miyakawa, in 1905. Sam Dargan, its first African American, graduated in 1909. Indiana Law’s international program began with numerous students from the Philippines graduating in 1907, and its LLM degree was established in 1919.
In late 1925 the law school launched the Indiana Law Journal, and the first student editorial board included Pearl Lee Vernon, Indiana Law’s only woman at that time, who graduated first in her class.