University of California, Davis School of Law (King Hall)
The information on this page was provided by the law school.
Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs
The School of Law at the University of California, Davis, is one of the nation’s premier institutions of legal learning. The school, known for its scholarly excellence and the ambition of its faculty and student body, has a commitment to the creation of a diverse community serving the welfare of its constituents and the world around it. It has full American Bar Association accreditation and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. The school is in a state-of-the-art building, King Hall, named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of his efforts to promote social and political justice. For this reason, the School of Law is often referred to as King Hall.
The UC Davis campus, a major research university, is a little over an hour from San Francisco; 15 minutes from the state capital, Sacramento; and within easy reach of major recreational areas such as Napa, Carmel, and Lake Tahoe. The campus occupies 3,600 acres within the bike-friendly and charming college town of Davis.
The law school’s idyllic surroundings and close proximity to the Bay Area and the state capital create abundant opportunities for a well-rounded educational and professional experience. The campus offers a full range of excellent graduate and professional programs.
The JD Program
The mission of the School of Law of the University of California, Davis, is to be a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the development and dissemination of legal knowledge, as well as the education of students to become socially responsible lawyers committed to professional excellence and high ethical standards, and to provide significant public service through law reform and professional activities. Through its faculty, students, and graduates, the School of Law seeks to make substantial contributions toward solving the complex legal problems confronting our society.
The School of Law offers a three-year, full-time program in law leading to the Juris Doctor degree. A faculty with a national reputation for cutting-edge scholarship and devoted teaching works hand-in-hand with an outstanding and diverse student body. The faculty includes worldwide leaders in many fields, including:
- constitutional law
- intellectual property
- environmental law
- civil rights
- critical race theory
- trusts, wills, and estates
- corporate law and securities
- criminal law and procedure
- civil procedure
- complex litigation
- Latinos and the law
- international law
- immigration law
Each first-year section typically has about 65 students and at least one of the required first-year courses is a small group of 30–35 students. A distinctive feature of the school is a weeklong introductory course, Introduction to Law, preceding the formal first-year curriculum. The curriculum’s upper-division courses cover broad areas of concentration such as criminal justice, business and taxation, civil litigation, estate planning and taxation, labor and employment law, environmental law, human rights and social justice law, immigration law, intellectual property, international law, and constitutional and other public law. For more information on curriculum, please visit our school's website.
UC Davis School of Law is home to three dynamic, interdisciplinary research centers: the California International Law Center, the California Environmental Law & Policy Center, and the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies. Each center has affiliated faculty that include School of Law professors, as well as scholars from other parts of the UC Davis campus.
UC Davis offers eight certificate programs focusing on business law, criminal law and policy, environmental law, immigration law, intellectual property law, public service, pro bono, and tax law. Students in the Public Interest Law Program receive a certificate based on required coursework, practical experience, and community service. This program culminates each year in a public service graduation ceremony, at which a graduating student receives the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award. Students receive the Business Law, Criminal Law and Policy , Environmental Law, Immigration Law, Intellectual Property, Public Service Law, or Tax Law Certificate upon the successful completion of a set group of core and elective classes selected by the faculty. King Hall students can also participate in a Pro Bono Program designed to both help address the unmet legal service needs of disadvantaged persons and nonprofit organizations, and to impress upon students the professional responsibility of lawyers to perform public service.
The school is known for its superb clinical programs in which students work under the supervision of practicing lawyers in many different substantive areas. Students also participate in externships in trial and appellate courts as well as in federal, state, and local government offices and nonprofit organizations throughout California and in Washington, DC.
The law school has five in-house clinics:
- Immigration Law Clinic: Students work with one of the best immigration faculties in the United States to assist immigrants facing deportation.
- Civil Rights Clinic: Students appear in federal court in constitutional litigation, representing people who might otherwise have no counsel.
- Family Protection Clinic: This clinic represents many low-income people who are not native English speakers and who need family law and domestic violence assistance.
- Social Justice Clinic: Students have the opportunity to examine critically the racial impacts of the criminal justice system as they represent clients in the system.
- Aoki Water Justice Clinic: This clinic combines transactional law, policy advocacy, and strategic research to ensure low-income California communities receive clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. Students deliver direct legal assistance, educate decision-makers and the public on the relationship between racial inequality, poverty, and lack of access to water, and identify strategies for eliminating the root causes of water inequality.
Experiential Learning: Journals, Competition Teams, Lawyering Process, Legal Skills Training, Practicum
At UC Davis School of Law, students enjoy not only outstanding academic training, but also the opportunity to hone practical skills.
In the first year, students take a skills-based course, Lawyering Process, which introduces 1L students to different types of interactive skills needed for effective litigation and transactional work. Students gain a better appreciation for the varied tasks in which different types of lawyers engage. Simulation-based opportunities help students hone basic skills in client interviewing, counseling, negotiation, and networking. For this course, students meet in a large section taught by tenured professors, and a small lab section led by an adjunct Professor who currently works full-time in the legal field and provides mentorship to students.
Students can write for six student-run journals: UC Davis Law Review, Business Law Journal, Environs, Journal of International Law & Policy, Social Justice Law Review, and Immigration & Nationality Law Review.
Students participate in Moot Court, Trial Advocacy, and Negotiation competitions. Our law school is rare in that it has a dedicated Negotiations competition for IL students each fall and another competition open to all students each spring. Such experiential learning is not only important to a student's legal education, but showcases the academic excellence of the UC Davis School of Law.
Thanks to this type of applied skills training, King Hall students learn beyond the classroom in ways that help them succeed in the job market and in their careers, both in and outside the courtroom.
Students in the King Hall’s Externship Program expand on their legal education outside “the four walls” of the school by earning academic credit for field placements in a government, judicial or public interest law office. Field supervisors provide close supervision as students hone their competencies in legal research and writing, client communication, and other essential lawyering skills. An essential part of the externship program is the faculty oversight during the semester. King Hall faculty provide guidance through meetings and written reflective assignments to help students create a strategic plan for their experience and maximize what they are learning in the “real world.”
Students may choose part-time or full-time externships depending on their interests and schedules. Many opportunities are posted in Symplicity but students are free to research elsewhere. Through their work, students learn to make more informed and strategic decisions about their career path. At the most basic level, externships are a unique platform for students to learn how they will become competent and ethical legal professionals.
King Hall externship placements have included District Attorney and Public Defender Offices, Judicial Chambers (both state and federal), the California Legislature, and a wide range of government offices, public interest, and public policy organizations.
The UC Davis School of Law offers its JD students the opportunity to spend a semester abroad taking classes at a partner law school. The goal of the exchange experience is to provide UC Davis JD students with skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the global legal environment. Students who participate in the UC Davis School of Law Exchange Program learn about different legal regimes in a comparative context, enrich their educational studies by taking classes about other legal systems not offered in the JD curriculum, form international networks with professional colleagues, and experience law in a cultural context. Returning JD students enrich the law school classroom experience by sharing their insights and new knowledge with fellow students and the King Hall community. Among the locations offered are:
- Madrid, Spain
- Santiago, Chile
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dublin, Ireland
- Sonipat, India
- Beijing, China
- Newcastle, U.K.
- Paris, France
At UC Davis School of Law, your academic and professional success is of utmost importance to the faculty, staff, and administration. The Law School sponsors a number of programs designed to help all students meet their own personal levels of success. While law school may seem daunting at times, the tools you need to become both academically and professionally successful are within your reach.
When you become a member of the King Hall community, you enter a uniquely supportive learning environment. Classes are small, professors are world-class legal scholars and teachers, and the staff and administration are accessible, caring, and friendly. In addition, the Academic Success Program provides resources to assist with all aspects of the study of law. From Intro Week to the bar exam, the Academic Success Program offers tutorial assistance, study aids, sample practice exams, study and exam skills workshops, individual academic counseling, and study plan and learning styles assessments. All programs are designed to help you improve your academic performance in law school, on the bar exam, and, ultimately, in the profession.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
UC Davis Law has a long history of dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion. From our majority-minority faculty to our diverse student body and curriculum, we actively seek a learning community where students and scholars engage in diverse areas of the law, with a variety of people, and ideas different from their own.
The law school is housed within “King Hall” on the UC Davis campus, a state-of-the-art law building named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A life-size statue of Dr. King is prominently displayed in the law school lobby, and his words, celebrated as art throughout the building, are important reminders of his dedication to justice for all.
As Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” All King Hall community members are encouraged to work to achieve a diverse, equitable and inclusive law school environment. Toward that end, the law school provides support and resources for DEI efforts. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to reach out to Alexis Elston, DEI Fellow, for additional information and support.
First Generation Advocates
UC Davis School of Law is renowned for its supportive and diverse community and for its commitment to the ideals of social justice and equality espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in whose memory the law school building is dedicated. As part of this commitment, King Hall is dedicated to maintaining a welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds. King Hall’s First Generation Advocates program was created to promote diversity and maximize the academic, professional, and personal success of students who are the first from their families to earn a college or professional degree as well as students from low-income backgrounds.
Participating students are paired with a faculty or staff mentor, who will provide insight and guidance regarding the special challenges faced by first generation law students. Participating mentors include Kevin R. Johnson, Dean of the School of Law, Afra Afsharipour, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and other distinguished faculty members from a wide range of backgrounds.
Beginning during the fall semester, the School of Law provides opportunities for incoming first generation students to meet faculty, alumni, and returning students with similar backgrounds in informal settings that encourage the sharing of experiences and promote community and collegiality. The very first networking opportunity is the "First Generation, First Week Welcome Reception," which provides an opportunity for students to meet both their mentors and the various members of the School of Law community who can support them throughout their law school careers.
The First Generation Advocate Seminar Series features King Hall faculty and alumni and distinguished guest speakers leading discussions focused on the issues and challenges typically encountered by first generation students, such as the financial challenges of legal education, pressures associated with law school assimilation, and related subjects.
Health and Wellness
Maintaining and enhancing your health is essential for the successful pursuit of your goals at King Hall and beyond. The UC Davis Wellness Portal contains campus resources to help you stay well, including medical, mental health, substance abuse, and other wellness programs and services.
- Medical Services
- Counseling Services
- Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) Intervention Services
- Wellness Services
There are a variety of housing options available to UC Davis students. Vacancy rates, however, can be low and priority is given to current lease holders. We strongly encourage you to begin searching, and adding your name to waiting lists,for housing beginning in January of the year you intend to enroll -- prior to learning of your admission status. The earlier you can get started, the more choices you will have. There is limited campus housing available to graduate students and most law student live in private residences, usually with roommates.
King Hall is renowned for its sense of community, and you will find a friendly, vibrant, and active student body at King Hall. More than 50 student organizations and their activities are at the heart of our academic and social activities.
Career Placement and Bar Passage
The Career Services Office consists of five counselors, all with JDs, who had significant and diverse legal careers prior to joining the office. The counselors assist students in securing summer and post-JD positions and provide detailed reviews of résumés, cover letters, and other application materials. All services, including mock interviews, speakers, and training workshops, serve the needs of students and alumni seeking various types of legal and professional employment.
Approximately 100 employers visit the campus to interview students. Many others advertise using the school’s online database. Off-campus interviewing opportunities are also available. The Career Services staff conducts significant outreach to potential employers in all legal sectors. For more information about career services, please visit our school's Career Services page.
The UC Davis bar passage rate for first-time examinees on the California Bar Examination regularly exceeds the average pass rate for all ABA-approved law schools in California. For more information about bar passage statistics, please see our school's Admissions page.
Tuition and Aid
The School of Law offers generous gift aid, in both merit-based and need-based forms. A high percentage of students receive gift aid in one or both forms, with total annual gift aid packages ranging from $3,500 to full resident tuition. All admitted students receive automatic consideration for merit-based gift aid. Those admitted under the Early Decision Program receive automatic consideration for one of four Select Scholars awards. These four $60,000 scholarships are awarded to early-decision applicants and recognize achievements in public service, environmental science, and STEM fields, as well as graduates of any University of California campus. Each year, two entering students receive the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship totaling $60,000, based on demonstrated commitment to public interest. This is the only scholarship requiring a separate application. Consideration for a need-based gift requires the submission of the FAFSA (or CA Dream Act application if an undocumented student) by March 2.
In addition, the Financial Aid Office offers a full range of financial aid services, from entrance through graduation. The school participates in all nationally recognized aid programs, such as the Federal Direct Loan Program and Federal Work-Study Program. University student loan and grant funds are available for childcare. The School of Law offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program to assist recent graduates entering public interest and government legal employments with repayment of educational loan debt.
Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers
While the admission process is highly selective, it is by no means mechanical. The Admission Committee seeks excellent students of diverse backgrounds and interests. The committee reviews each application carefully and considers many factors, including undergraduate grades and trends, LSAT scores, economic and other disadvantages, advanced studies, work experience, extracurricular and community activities, maturity, and commitment to the study of law. Residency is not a factor in the admission process. A binding early-decision option is also available. Open houses and information sessions for prospective applicants occur throughout the year. Prospective applicants can request student-led tours and class visits on the school’s website as well as view information about the most recent entering class.