Dean Joseph D. Kearney

2019 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Seventh Circuit

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA—Joseph D. Kearney has been selected to receive the prestigious 2019 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Seventh Circuit. Thomas L. Shriner, Jr., Esquire, will present the award during the Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit on May 6 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Kearney is dean and professor of law at the Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee. “Joe instills the qualities of professionalism into our students both by word and example,” says Shriner, who nominated Kearney for the award.

Dean since 2003, Kearney is one of the country’s longest-serving law school deans and has led the school’s transformation into a marketplace of ideas that encourages public debate on often-controversial legal, political, and social issues. These groundbreaking public policy initiatives include the popular “On the Issues” discussion series plus the Marquette University Law School Poll, now nationally recognized as the go-to poll for assessing public sentiment in the battleground state of Wisconsin. Kearney has also expanded the school’s academic lecture series, bringing prominent scholars, practitioners, and judges to speak to packed houses.

Kearney also helped to raise more than $100 million in a campaign whose centerpiece was the construction of Eckstein Hall, a state-of-the-art building that now houses the school.

Despite his duties as dean, Kearney has continued in the classroom since joining Marquette’s faculty in 1997, teaching upper-level courses in advanced civil procedure and the federal courts as well as a Supreme Court seminar. Deeply committed to the school’s Jesuit emphasis on service to the most vulnerable, Kearney led the creation of an Office of Public Service through which about half the student body takes the opportunity to provide pro bono services supervised by area lawyers to thousands of low-income clients a year who are facing legal challenges. The Office of Public Service even includes a mobile legal clinic in partnership with the local bar association and county clerk of courts.

Before entering academia, Kearney spent six years practicing law at Sidley & Austin in Chicago. He was also a law clerk for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is an Emeritus member of the Thomas E. Fairchild American Inn of Court.

Kearney earned a BA summa cum laude from Yale University and a JD cum laude from Harvard Law School.