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 J.D./M.B.A. program with The Drucker Graduate School of Management; a J.D./M.A. program in Negotiation with California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH); a public policy certificate program with the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS); a bioscience industry certificate program with the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI); LL.M. programs in entertainment and media law and general studies; and 3+3 B.A./J.D. programs with CSUDH and California State University, Northridge (CSUN). With a reputation for graduating lawyers who are well-rounded, entrepreneurial and prepared for practice, Southwestern's 12,000 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, closely linked to the entertainment industry in Hollywood and internationally, offers the most comprehensive entertainment, media and intellectual property curriculum in the United States.
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 "firsts." 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, technology, and trial and appellate advocacy, 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, and the law school's Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center is the most technologically sophisticated center of its kind in the country. In 2013, Southwestern completed another phase in campus expansion - . This brand new on-campus housing complex features fully furnished, state-of-the-art apartments for students, as well as an on-site business center, private study rooms, roof-top sun deck, large landscaped central courtyard and spacious two-story lobby-lounge, among other features and services.
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 a concurrent J.D./M.B.A. 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 (CSUDH), as well as 3+3 B.A./J.D. programs with CSUDH and California State University, Northridge (CSUN). LL.M. programs are also offered in general 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. With over 250 elective courses, including Capstone and Intersession courses; more than 150 externship placement settings; practicum and clinical programs; and certificate programs in public policy or bioscience industry law, students are able 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
Southwestern established the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute in 2000, building on a long history of involvement with the entertainment industry. Under the auspices of the Biederman Institute, the law school offers the most comprehensive entertainment, media and intellectual property curriculum in the United States. The nine full-time professors with extensive industry experience, who have produced many of the leading treatises and casebooks in these fields, are joined by a prominent roster of adjunct faculty members that reads like a "Who's Who" of the entertainment and media law bar. A prestigious executive board and network of alumni, occupying important corporate and law firm positions throughout the industry, are also very active in serving as mentors to our students. Taking full advantage of its location at the heart of the global entertainment industry, the institute oversees a comprehensive externship program, two unique entertainment practicums, specialized summer programs in Los Angeles and London, the Biederman Scholars mentoring program, the first LL.M. in entertainment and media law both on campus and online, and presents lectures and symposia with industry leaders. The Institute also publishes the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law, in conjunction with the American Bar Association's Forums on Communications Law and the Entertainment and Sports Industries, as well as a cutting-edge entertainment law blog. Through all these efforts, Southwestern has earned a reputation as the law school for students interested in entertainment and media law
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 Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law published in conjunction with the ABA Forums on Communications Law and the Entertainment and Sports Industries. 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
Since its founding, Southwestern has held public interest as a central component of its curriculum and philosophy, and encourages public service through a rich selection of programs, courses, activities and individual pursuits, including the Children's Rights, Immigration Law and Street Law clinics, the Silbert Public Interest Fellowship and Public Interest Summer Grants programs, extensive student volunteer work with local schools and community organizations through the Public Service Program, as well as a variety of externship opportunities. Students' public service involvement is also 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.