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Southwestern Law School
SouthwesternLaw Logo.png
Motto A Landmark in Legal Education
Established 1911
School type Private
Dean Bryant G. Garth
Location Los Angeles, California, USA
Enrollment 964[1]
Faculty 160[1]
USNWR ranking Tier 3[2]
Bar pass rate 63% [3]
Annual tuition $33,410[1]
ABA Profile Southwestern Law School Profile

Southwestern Law School (formerly known as Southwestern University School of Law) is a private ABA-accredited law school located in Los Angeles, California (Mid-Wilshire), with about 1,000 students on a campus that includes the Bullocks Wilshire building, an admired art deco landmark completed in 1929. Southwestern is an independent law school with no affiliation to any undergraduate university.



Southwestern Law School was founded on November 25, 1911 as the Southwestern College of Law. John J. Schumacher, its founder, intended the nonprofit institution to be a law school that reached out to women and minorities. The school is one of the oldest law schools in the state of California and the second oldest law school in Los Angeles.

Southwestern received a university charter in 1913 after it expanded to include a number of other disciplines including a business school. Southwestern's first "home" was in the Union Oil Building in downtown Los Angeles, followed by a small campus on South Hill Street, where it existed for the ensuing decades.

The Great Depression and Second World War took a severe toll on the school's enrollment, and by the end of the 1930s the law school was the only school that remained. However, as veterans returned home the school experienced a surge of interest, and in 1974, the campus was moved to the school's current location on Westmoreland Avenue in the Wilshire Center area of Los Angeles.

In 1994, Southwestern acquired the adjacent Bullocks Wilshire building, an historic landmark which was subsequently renovated to house the school's law library, classrooms, faculty offices, and a high-tech state of the art court room and advocacy center.


The Bullocks Wilshire Building on the campus of the Southwestern Law School
The Promenade at the center of the Southwestern Law School campus

The campus is located in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Currently the campus contains two buildings, the Westmoreland Building and the Bullocks Wilshire Building. Both buildings house classrooms, administrative offices, and faculty offices; the Bullocks Wilshire Building also houses the Leigh Taylor Law Library (named for a former Dean of the law school), the Julian Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center, a fitness center (featuring treadmills, exercise bikes, and StepMaster-style machines as well as nautilus and free weights, and a studio for aerobics and Yoga), a dining area, and a number of student lounges.

The Westmoreland Building is a building typical of college and university campuses, while the Bullocks Wilshire Building is a fully-restored art deco landmark that pays tribute to its history in many ways. Every level of the building is has been renovated (back to its original 1929 state) down to the smallest details such as the clocks on the walls and the "showcases" in the area now occupied by the library.

At over 83,000 square feet (7,700 m2) and featuring over 470,000 volumes, the Leigh H. Taylor Law Library is the second largest academic law library facility in California.

The school's location is near downtown Los Angeles. Currently, Southwestern Law School has no on-campus housing, so the student body is composed entirely of commuters. The current layout of the campus reflects this, with about one-third of the campus devoted to a dual-level parking facility. Plans are being formulated to build on-campus housing in the future.

Transportation - Metro Rapid 720 bus (runs along Wilshire Boulevard), stops within a few blocks of the law school, while standard Metro Bus 18 and 20 stop in front of the school, and Metro Rail Red line entrance is one block west of the law school.

Dean Bryant G. Garth

Southwestern's current dean is Bryant G. Garth. Prior to joining Southwestern, Dean Garth was the Director of the American Bar Foundation (ABF), and formerly the Dean of the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington, from 1986-1990.

Dean Garth succeeded Dean Leigh H. Taylor.

Recent changes under Dean Garth include hiring additional staff, adding resources for counseling, and bringing the grading curve in line with that of other law schools so that the average grade is now a B rather than a C+.

Along with Professor Catherine Carpenter's study on law school curricula for the American Bar Association, Dean Garth assisted in changing the first-year curriculum to better fit the needs of the students. The curriculum is now more focused on career development and lawyering skills, including interviewing, counseling, and negotiation. As part of the new program, the first week of school is dedicated completely to the new LAWS program (Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills).

According to Brian Leiter's study of Most Cited Law Professors By Specialty 2000-2007, Dean Garth's scholarship in Law and Social Science has been cited at least 550 times.[4]

Academic Rankings and Faculty Reputation

Established in 1911, Southwestern is an ABA accredited school and ranked in the third tier by the 2009U.S. News and World Report[5]

Southwestern's Part Time program is ranked 27th in the country by U.S. News and World Report. [6]

Southwestern is ranked 82nd in the nation by the 2010 Super Lawyers Law School Rankings.Super Lawyers[7]

In 2008, Southwestern's moot court team was ranked 11th in the U.S.,[8] and is currently ranked 47th.[9]

Southwestern's negotiation team finished first place in the 2008-09 regional negotiation competition sponsored by the American Bar Association.[10]

According to the Internet Legal Research Group (ILRG), Southwestern graduates rank in the top 10 of all U.S. law schools by median salary in public practice, and in the top 50 for median salary overall.[11]

Nationally, Southwestern ranks 43rd in the percentage of students employed at graduation with 85.2%.[12]

A compilation of Brian Leiter's study of Most Cited Law Professors By Specialty 2000-2007 reveals that Southwestern faculty ranked in the top 50 of the nation's law schools in total citations.[13]



Juris Doctor (J.D.)

Full-Time Day Program (3 years)

Traditional program is three academic years of full-time study that allows students to pursue a broad-based legal education with opportunities to focus on a particular area of the law, such as: entertainment, criminal, international, business, family, or tax law, among others. In 2007, Southwestern introduced its new, innovative first-year curriculum based on doctrinal legal theory foundation with focus on legal research, writing, interviewing and advocacy skills to bridge the gap from theory to practice. Southwestern's curricular reforms led the school to be chosen as one of ten distinguished schools by the Carnegie Foundation to participate in a groundbreaking study on the future of legal education.

Part-Time Evening (4 years)

Ranked 27th in the nation, [6] the Evening program is four academic years of part-time study based on the traditional curriculum, designed for working professionals and other students who are unable to devote full-time to the study of law.

Part-Time Day (also known as PLEAS) (4 years)

PLEAS (Part-time Legal Education Alternative at Southwestern) is a part-time day program designed for students with child or elder care responsibilities. Its four academic years of part-time study is based on the traditional curriculum and daytime classes.

SCALE Program (2 years)

Established in 1974, Southwestern founded the first two-year J.D. course of study offered at an American Bar Association-approved law school. SCALE (Southwestern's Conceptual Approach to Legal Education) is a unique, accelerated J.D. program with emphasis on interdisciplinary study, critical thinking and simulation training. SCALE's frequent deadlines, challenging curriculum, extensive writing assignments, intense schedule, and demanding workload prepare students for the rigors of practicing law. Low student-faculty ratio in the classroom promotes cooperative teaching and intellectual discussion among classmates. The program has a limited enrollment of select highly motivated and exceptional students, which requires applicants to interview with the Program Director as part of the application process.[14]

Joint Degree Programs


Southwestern has joined forces with The Drucker Graduate School of Management to create dual-degree programs that will expand students' educational and career options. Students at Southwestern and the Drucker School, part of Claremont Graduate University (CGU), will be able to earn a J.D. and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), a J.D. and Master of Arts in Management (M.A.M.), or a J.D. and Executive Master of Business Administration (E.M.B.A.). The combination of legal training and management skills is increasingly in demand, and this new collaboration presents an excellent opportunity for both Southwestern law students and Drucker management students to expand their academic credentials and professional opportunities. The collaboration reflects the two institutions' core values and the genuine desire to prepare graduates not only for fulfilling careers, but to make a positive difference in society.[15]

Master of Laws (LL.M.)

Entertainment and Media Law

Drawing from the resources of the Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute, Southwestern established the nation's first Master of Laws (LL.M) degree in Entertainment and Media Law.

General Studies

Southwestern offers a stimulating, individualized LL.M. program for students who have already earned a law degree and are interested in furthering their legal education. The program allows students to choose their own focus of study - from American Legal Systems to International Law to Technology Innovation and Commercialization - in line with their individual personal and professional goals.

Advocacy Training

In 2006, Southwestern was awarded a federal grant to train Mexican lawyers and law faculty in advocacy skills as part of a USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) effort to assist Mexican legal reforms.[16]

Academic Programs & Publications

Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute[17]

The Institute hosts guest speakers, conferences, and an annual symposium in the area of entertainment and media law, providing opportunities for students to interact with professionals in these fields. It boasts distinguished faculty of the country's most eminent entertainment scholars, publishes a semi-annual law journal, and offers the nation’s first LL.M Degree in Entertainment and Media Law.

Moot Court Honors Program

Select students represent Southwestern in local, regional and national interscholastic competitions as oralists, brief writers or team coordinators. Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program is recognized as one of the most active moot court programs in the country, sending teams to over a dozen major competitions annually. At the 2007 Intramural Moot Court Competition, Honorable Steven Levinson, Associate Justice for the Supreme Court of Hawaii, commented that Southwestern has "by far, the best First-Year Moot Court program in the nation." [18] The moot court program was ranked 52nd in 2007,[19] 11th in 2008,[8] and is currently ranked 46th in the country (running tally).[20]

Negotiation Honors Program

Southwestern’s newest honors program provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate core lawyering skills in the context of negotiating contracts. Members of the Negotiation Honors Program compete in competitions that allows them to apply the skills of legal research, writing, advocacy and client counseling through negotiation exercises. Professors Cristina Knolton and Nyree Gray serve as faculty advisors to the program. Although only recently created as an honors program, it enhances what was already in place when Southwestern regularly sent teams to ABA competitions. In 2008, a team from Southwestern won First Place at the ABA Negotiation Competition.[21]

Trial Advocacy Honors Program

Teams participate in national and regional mock trial competitions, consisting of both criminal and civil trials, throughout the academic year. Advocates compete in some of the nation's most prestigious invitation-only competitions, judged by distinguished members of the bench and bar. Faculty include Joseph P. Esposito, Head Deputy of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, Major Narcotics Division; Bill Seki, Former LA County Prosecutor and founding partner at the litigation firm Seki, Nishimura & Watase, LLP; and Karen R. Smith, Former Prosecutor for the California Attorney General's Office, Former Senior Deputy Federal Public Defender for California and then for the Federal Public Defender's Office, Current Full-Time Professor.

Southwestern Law Review

Law Review is a student-edited quarterly journal that publishes scholarly articles and commentary on a variety of legal issues in California and federal law contributed by prominent jurists, practitioners, law professors, and student members of the Law Review staff. Annual Symposia and the Distinguished Lecture Series are sponsored by Law Review. These programs feature prominent members of the legal community lecturing on areas of legal expertise and participating in panel discussions on relevant emerging and contemporary legal issues.

Southwestern Journal of International Law

Formerly the Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, Law Journal focuses on issues of international law and trade, publishing scholarly articles and notes exploring areas such as international insolvency, environmental law, international trade issues, NAFTA, international arbitration, privatization in Central and South American countries, immigration, human rights, international crime, and a host of other comparative issues. On October 3, 2008, the Southwestern Journal of International Law hosted one of the first U.S. conferences on Arctic Sovereignty, featuring distinguished legal scholars from both the United States and Canada.[22]

Journal of International Media & Entertainment Law

In association with the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law and Forum on Entertainment and Sports Industries, the Journal of International Media & Entertainment Law explores the complex and unsettled legal issues surrounding the creation and distribution of media and entertainment products on a worldwide basis, which necessarily implicate the laws, customs, and practices of multiple jurisdictions. Additionally, it examines the impact of the Internet and other technologies, the often conflicting laws affecting those issues, and the legal ramifications of widely divergent cultural views of privacy, defamation, intellectual property, and government regulation.

Journal of Legal Education

In 2008-2009, the Journal of Legal Education was transitioned for a five-year term from Georgetown University Law Center to Southwestern. The Journal of Legal Education is a quarterly publication of the Association of American Law Schools that fosters an exploration of ideas and information about legal education and related matters and serves as a medium for communication within the law school world. The co-editors at Georgetown were Professors Carrie Menkel-Meadow and Mark Tushnet. The co-editors at Southwestern are Dean Bryant G. Garth and Professor Angela R. Riley, with Dr. Molly Selvin serving as associate editor.

Clinical Programs

Children's Rights Clinic

Provides representation to low-income children in the areas of school discipline, special education and other education-related issues. The clinic is staffed by law students who represent clients under the supervision of faculty. Students have the opportunity in a real-life context to hone their lawyering skills such as interviewing, negotiating, counseling, pre-trial litigation, and oral advocacy.

Immigration and Human Rights Clinic

Provides immigration relief to children and caretakers who have been abused, abandoned or neglected or who have been victims of crime. Students are taught to navigate complicated bureaucracies and to support indigent and otherwise underrepresented clients who are often confused and intimidated by the immigration process. The clinic offers valuable services to the Los Angeles community, while giving students hands-on experience.

Street Law - Youth in Transition

Students enrolled in the Street Law Clinic teach law-related critical life skills to youth in Los Angeles, most of whom are involved in the dependency or delinquency system. Many of these young students also have learning disabilities, which qualifies them for special education services.

The law students participate in a weekly classroom component at Southwestern to prepare them to go into the community and teach one ninety-minute lesson each week for a period of 10-weeks. Through the class, the law students learn and practice the skills necessary to teach practical participatory education about the law. In addition, attorneys from public interest agencies visit as guest speakers to review the laws and answer questions in their areas of expertise that relate to this special population. During the semester, the law students also have the opportunity to visit Dependency and Delinquency courts to observe hearings, as well as speak with attorneys and judges to gain a deeper understanding of these court systems, as many of the students they are teaching are involved or at risk of entering this system.[23]

Study Abroad Programs

Summer Abroad

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • London, England
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Guanajuato, Mexico


Semester Abroad

  • Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada

Notable alumni

Southwestern’s 10,000 alumni include prominent public officials—from members of Congress to mayors, and over 200 judges—as well as founders of major law firms and general counsels of multinational corporations.

Politics & Government


Entertainment Industry

Sports Industry

Legal Practice



Notable faculty

Former Professors

Southwestern in Pop Culture

  • Southwestern is located in the famous art-deco Bullocks Wilshire building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Office of Administrative Services is responsible for all arrangements pertaining to commercial photography and filming on Southwestern's campus, and works with Unreel Locations[26].
  • A scene in The Aviator, a 2004 film starring Leonard DiCaprio, was filmed on campus near the entrance to the Bullocks Wilshire Building.
  • The final scene in the film Ghostbusters was filmed on top of the Bullocks Wilshire Building.
  • Featured setting in Topper, a 1937 film starring Cary Grant
  • Featured in Dunston Checks In
  • Featured in Aerosmith’s "Love in an Elevator" video
  • Public Enemy's video for "By the Time I Get to Arizona" was filmed in front of the school.
  • Part of the background in the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien


External links


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