John Heilman

Professor of Law

Image - Professor John Heilman

B.S., Journalism, 1978, Northwestern University; J.D., 1982, M.P.A., 2007, and M.R.E.D., 2009, University of Southern California; Member, California State Bar


John Heilman brought many years of experience as a law professor, attorney and civic leader to the classroom when he joined the Southwestern faculty in 2012. In addition to teaching a wide array of core courses, he developed and implemented exam writing and bar examination preparation programs for Whittier Law School, USC Law Center and BAR-BRI. He became Co-Director of Southwestern's Academic Success and Bar-Related Programs in 2013 and continues to teach courses in the first-year curriculum.

Professor Heilman enjoys teaching both substantive subjects as well as skills for success in law school and practice. "I try to expose students to the major concepts in courses such as Criminal Law and Evidence while provoking thought and discussion about some of the policy issues in those areas," he explains.

"Regardless of what subject I'm teaching, I hope to help students organize material, identify legal issues, achieve depth in their factual analysis and present their ideas in a coherent fashion."

Professor Heilman earned his law degree at the University of Southern California, where he was Notes and Articles Editor of Southern California Law Review and the recipient of the Shattuck Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Law Center. He later earned a Masters in Public Administration and a Masters in Real Estate Development at USC. Early in his career, he practiced law in the private sector and in 1987 joined the legal writing faculty at Whittier Law School. In 1990, he was appointed as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, and in 1999, he was named the Distinguished Teaching Professor of Law at Whittier. Over the years, Professor Heilman has taught courses in civil procedure, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, international law, legal analysis, professional responsibility, sexual orientation law, remedies, real property, and AIDS and international law. He also established Whittier Law School's summer abroad program on sexual orientation law. He was honored nine times as Professor of the Year at Whittier. He has received numerous teaching awards since joining Southwestern's faculty. 

Professor Heilman is also a prominent elected official, having served as Mayor (eight different terms) and City Council member of West Hollywood since the city was incorporated in 1984. He was active on the city's incorporation committee, served on the first city council and was responsible for hiring initial staff and developing operating policies and procedures, as well as the crafting of landmark ordinances for rent stabilization, and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of AIDS or HIV status, one of the first in the nation. Professor Heilman has been an active member of the National League of Cities and has served on the board of both the National and California League of Cities. He is a past board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Local Government Commission and is also past president of the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Local Officials Group.

Selected Achievements

Mayor of West Hollywood: 1985, 1990, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2010, and 2017

Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017

Elected Commencement Grand Marshal: 2015, 2016, 2018 - 2022