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 more than 100 years ago as an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian institution, Southwestern is fully approved by the ABA and is a member of the AALS.* It is the only law school to offer four JD courses of study that differ in scheduling and instructional approach, including full- and part-time programs, as well as a unique two-year accelerated curriculum. Concurrent three- and four-year JD/MBA programs are also offered.
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Southwestern has developed a reputation for graduating lawyers who are well-rounded, entrepreneurial and prepared for practice (see Learning Outcomes). Southwestern's 15,000 alumni have included prominent public officials - from members of Congress to mayors, and over 400 judges - as well as founders of major law firms and general counsel 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.
Flexible Two-, Three-, and Four-Year JD Programs
Southwestern's four JD programs include
- 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 also established three- and four-year concurrent JD/MBA degree programs with The Drucker Graduate School of Management of Claremont Graduate University and a JD/MA in Negotiation with California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Certificate programs are available in Public Policy through a partnership with the Pardee RAND Graduate School and in Bioscience Industry Law and Practice with the Keck Graduate Institute. Southwestern also offers LLM programs in individualized law studies and entertainment and media law, and the law school has partnered with California State University, Northridge and CSUDH to offer 3+3 BA/JD programs.
Diverse Student Community
Southwestern maintains a commitment to its rich legacy of multiculturalism and access and is one of the most diverse law schools in the United States. 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. In the most recent entering class, women represent 57 percent, while minorities make up more than 40 percent, and students report fluency in over 20 foreign languages. The average age is 26, with a range from 21 to over 50. In recent years, Southwestern has had the highest representation of African American students and second highest of Latino/Hispanic students of any California law school.
Southwestern's full-time faculty are passionate educators, eminent scholars and caring mentors. Many clerked for prominent members of the judiciary at the state and federal level, and most have significant practice experience in the private, government or nonprofit spheres. They include internationally recognized experts in antitrust, civil rights, criminal justice, entertainment and media, environmental, ethics, human rights, intellectual property, international, technology and trial advocacy, among other areas of the law. They have produced treatises and casebooks, as well as scholarly articles that have appeared in some of the most prominent law reviews and journals. They lead the key national studies on legal education curricula and legal careers and are often sought for their expertise by the legal and mainstream media. They also reflect Southwestern's commitment to diversity - more than a third are women, over 20 percent are minorities and several members identify as LGBT. Southwestern's impressive adjunct faculty includes distinguished judges, major law firm partners, general counsel of multinational corporations, top federal and local prosecutors, and studio executives who share their real-world knowledge with students in cutting-edge elective courses ranging from Asylum Law to Video Game Law.
An Inspiring Academic Environment
Southwestern has created a welcoming student-centered oasis within a campus that encompasses nearly two city blocks in the center of Los Angeles. The campus fronts on Wilshire Boulevard, the city's main thoroughfare. The Wilshire/Vermont Metro Rail station, less than two blocks from campus, provides easy access to the courts, government agencies, law firms and studios. The campus includes one of the city's most famous historic landmarks, the Bullocks Wilshire Building, and features state-of-the-art multimedia technology in the classrooms, courtrooms and clinics; wireless Internet access; spacious dining facilities and student lounges in restored historic areas; large terraces with panoramic city views; tranquil student commons and promenade plazas; and a 10,000-square-foot fitness center. Southwestern's Taylor Law Library is the second largest law library facility in California and the Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center is one of the most technologically sophisticated centers of its kind. In fall of 2013, the law school opened its first on-campus student residence complex - The Residences at 7th - with 133 furnished units that accommodate over 155 students.
An Innovative and Practice-Oriented CurriculumRecognized by the Carnegie Foundation for innovation, Southwestern's cutting-edge first-year curriculum allows students to choose from three tracks in their legal research and writing course - appellate, negotiation or trial advocacy - and to take an elective as early as their second semester. Upper-division enhancements include over 40 professional skills courses, a January intersession, capstone courses and special "mini-term" courses taught by international legal experts. The required curriculum is enriched by more than 250 electives, 150 externship placements, a variety of practicums and three clinics (Children's Rights, Immigration Law, and Street 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. A wide array of academic support programs and courses in addition to individualized counseling is provided by the Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs, the Director of Academic Support and Bar-Related Programs, and the Writing Center to ensure student success.
Entertainment and Media Law Institute
Located in the heart of the global entertainment industry, Southwestern was the first law school to establish a center for entertainment and media law. The internationally recognized Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute helps prepare graduates for the practice of law in creative industries such as film, television, music, theater, advertising, sports, the news media and the Internet. The law school offers the most comprehensive curriculum of its kind in the US. 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 60 courses, 60 externships, the Biederman Scholars program, entertainment law firm and production practicums, a scholarly journal, and summer programs in Los Angeles and London, as well as lectures and symposia with industry leaders. Southwestern also established the first LLM in Entertainment and Media Law in the country, offered both on campus and online.
Honors Programs and Cocurricular Activities
Teams from Southwestern's Moot Court, Negotiation and Trial Advocacy Honors Programs consistently earn top awards in competitions around the country. Students demonstrate their outstanding research, writing and editing skills through service on the Southwestern Law Review, the Southwestern Journal of International Law and the Journal of International Media and Entertainment Law. The Student Bar Association sponsors award-winning student welfare and community outreach programs and oversees over 50 student organizations, including legal fraternities; minority, cultural, political, and religious groups; and societies focused on specific areas of law.
Extensive Public Interest Involvement
Southwestern encourages students' public interest involvement through its Public Service Policy and a variety of programs: the on-campus legal clinics; special scholarship funds; the Woolverton Public Service Award; Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Awards; the Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program; Public Interest Summer Grants; extensive volunteer work with local schools and community organizations; and a large selection of externships. During the annual Public Interest Law Week, the entire law school community rallies to raise awareness and funds supporting public interest activities. Students' public service involvement is also formally recognized annually and at graduation.