With a long-standing emphasis on diversity, public service, and innovative programs, and a mid-city campus featuring a world-renowned Art Deco landmark, Southwestern Law School reflects the vibrancy of Los Angeles and provides an ideal setting for law study. Founded in 1911 as an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian institution, Southwestern is fully approved by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.* It is the only law school to offer four J.D. courses of study that differ in scheduling and instructional approach, including traditional full- and part-time programs as well as a unique two-year accelerated curriculum. Southwestern also offers a concurrent JD/MBA program with The Drucker Graduate School of Management; a JD/MA program in Negotiation with California State University, Dominguez Hills; a public policy certificate program with the Pardee RAND Graduate School; and LL.M. programs in entertainment and media law and individualized studies. 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. The law school has strong ties to the legal, business, and civic sectors, and its Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute is closely linked to the entertainment industry in Hollywood and internationally.
A History of 'Firsts'
Southwestern has been at the forefront of legal education since its inception. It was one of the first law schools to encourage the enrollment of women and minorities; the first law school on the West Coast to use the case method of instruction; the first law school in the country to offer an accelerated two-year J.D. program; one of the first law schools to design a J.D. program for students with child or elder care responsibilities; the first law school in the country to offer an LL.M. in entertainment law; and the first law school in the country to offer a choice of three advocacy tracks to first-year students, among many other "first." Southwestern has been recognized for curricular innovation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching among other entities. The law school continues to flourish as a result of several essential factors, among them:
Diverse and Talented Student Body
There is a strong sense of community among the students who come to Southwestern from virtually every state and a dozen foreign countries, and represent over 250 undergraduate institutions. About two-thirds have prior work experience or have already completed advanced degrees in diverse disciplines from accounting to urban planning. The enrollment is close to equally divided between women and men, while minorities make up 35 percent, and students report fluency in over 30 foreign languages. The average age in the entering class is 26, with a range from 20 to 52.
Southwestern's faculty focus on enhancing the quality of both the classroom experience and the attention provided to students as individuals. The full-time faculty includes nationally recognized experts in antitrust, civil rights, criminal justice, entertainment and media, environmental, human rights, intellectual property, international, and urban development, among other areas of the law. The adjunct faculty of distinguished judges and attorneys are known for their expertise in specialized practices and enjoy sharing their real-world knowledge with students in a rich variety of elective courses.
Award-winning Campus Facilities
Encompassing nearly two city blocks, Southwestern's campus includes the extraordinary Bullocks Wilshire building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the law school completed a $29 million campus expansion. The award-winning facilities feature state-of-the-art multimedia technology in the classrooms and clinic, wireless Internet access, spacious dining facilities and student lounges in restored historic areas, large terraces with panoramic city views, and tranquil student commons and promenade plazas, as well as a 10,000-square-foot spa-quality fitness center. At over 83,000 square feet, Southwestern's Leigh H. Taylor Law Library is the second largest academic law library facility in California. The law school's Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center is the most technologically sophisticated center of its kind in the country.
Two-, Three-, and Four-year J.D. Programs
Four J.D. programs are offered: a three-year, full-time day program; a four-year, part-time evening program; PLEAS - a four-year, part-time day program for students with child- or elder-care responsibilities; and SCALE® - an accelerated two-year, full-time program featuring small classes, practical skills training, and real-world experience. Southwestern has also established concurrent J.D./M.B.A. and J.D./M.A.M. degree programs with the Drucker Graduate School of Management of Claremont Graduate University and a J.D./M.A. in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding with California State University, Dominguez Hills. LL.M. programs are also offered in individualized law studies and entertainment law.
The required traditional curriculum includes 17 courses. Recognized by the Carnegie Foundation, the new cutting-edge first-year curriculum provides more time for students to digest class material, learn about the realities of legal practice, and take an elective as early as their second semester. Over 140 elective courses, more than 150 externship placement settings, and a clinical program allow students to design a broad-based legal education or emphasize an area of law. Southwestern's location, faculty expertise, alumni presence in the profession, and history have enabled the law school to develop a reputation as a leader, particularly in entertainment and media law, international law, criminal law, and trial advocacy/litigation. Southwestern sponsors summer law programs in Argentina, Canada, England, and Mexico. Academic Support Programs are offered in the summer and during the academic year.
Entertainment and Media Law Institute
Taking advantage of its position in the heart of the Entertainment Capital of the World and the Digital Coast, Southwestern established the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. With the largest contingent of full-time entertainment and media law faculty of any law school, Southwestern also benefits from an extensive network of alumni and adjunct faculty who hold prominent positions in these industries. The institute sponsors over 40 courses, 50 externships, a special law firm practicum, a scholarly journal, summer programs in Los Angeles and London, and presents lectures and symposia with industry leaders. Southwestern also established the first LL.M. program in Entertainment and Media Law in the country, and just launched the first online LL.M. in Entertainment and Media Law program as well.
Southwestern's interscholastic Moot Court Honors Program, sends teams to 15 competitions each year and is considered to be among the largest and best in the country. Members of the Trial Advocacy Honors Program as well as the Negotiation Honors Program and client counseling teams, also consistently earn top awards in interscholastic competitions. Students demonstrate their outstanding research, writing, and editing skills through service on the Southwestern Law Review and the Southwestern Journal of International Law, as well as the new Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law published in conjunction with the ABA Forum on Communications Law. The Student Bar Association sponsors award-winning student welfare programs and community outreach projects. There are also over 35 on-campus student organizations, including three legal fraternities; minority, cultural, political, and religious groups; and societies focused on specific areas of law.
Public Interest Involvement
Southwestern encourages students to pursue public interest service through a variety of programs: the Children's Rights and Immigration Rights clinic, the Street Law Program, special scholarship funds, a loan forgiveness program, the Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program, dozens of summer grant opportunities for students working with public service agencies, extensive student volunteer work with local schools and community organizations, and a variety of externships. Students' public service involvement is formally recognized annually and at graduation.
The Career Services Office coordinates career planning, counseling, workshops, networking events, and panel presentations, as well as the Alumni Resource Network to help students prepare for and secure legal employment. The office sponsors intensive on- and off-campus interview programs and provides online access to extensive job listings and on-campus interview opportunities through Symplicity. Although the majority of Southwestern graduates choose to practice in California, alumni can be found in 47 states and 17 foreign countries.
Admission to Southwestern is highly selective, with an average acceptance rate over the past five years of 27 percent. While emphasis is placed on undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores earned within the past three years, community involvement, work experience, motivation, recommendations, and diversity are also major factors. Transfer applications are considered from students who have successfully completed at least one year at another ABA-approved law school.
About 90 percent of Southwestern's students receive some form of financial aid that may include scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study funds. Among the more than 50 institutional scholarship funds are the Paul W. Wildman Scholarship and the John J. Schumacher Minority Leadership Scholarship programs, which provide up to full-tuition renewable scholarships to members of the entering class who demonstrate exceptional academic and leadership potential.