Southwestern Law School

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Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs

lnnovating Legal Education For Over One Hundred Years

Southwestern is the second oldest law school in Los Angeles with over 100 years of inclusion, public service, innovative programming, forever embedded in its DNA. Its mid-city campus featuring a world-renowned Art Deco landmark reflects the vibrancy of Los Angeles and provides an ideal setting for law study and practice. Southwestern is an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian institution, accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and belonging to the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). It is the only ABA law school offering four JD programs differing in scheduling and instructional approach, including full- and part-time programs and a unique two-year accelerated curriculum. Southwestern’s part-time evening program recently implemented distance learning technology reducing the number of commuting-to-campus evenings to two. Southwestern also offers concurrent three- and four-year JD/MBA programs. Southwestern is known for graduating practice-ready lawyers who are well-rounded, entrepreneurial, possessing the skills and initiative to excel in the legal profession, business and industry, government, and public interest settings. Southwestern’s 11,000+ alumni include prominent public officials—from members of Congress to mayors, and over 400 judges—as well as founders of major law firms and general counsel and executives of multinational corporations. Southwestern has strong ties to the legal, business, and civic sectors, and its Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute are closely linked to the entertainment industry in Hollywood and internationally.

Flexible Two-, Three-, and Four-Year JD Programs

Southwestern’s five JD programs include:

  • a three-year, full-time day program
  • a four-year, part-time evening program
  • two four-year, part-time day programs, including PLEAS, which features a class schedule customized for students with child- or elder-care responsibilities
  • SCALE—the oldest accelerated two-year, full-time day program in the country, featuring a small class cohort, practical skills training, and real-world experience (est. 1975)

Southwestern also offers three- and four-year JD/MBA degree programs with the Drucker Graduate School of Management of Claremont Graduate University. BA/JD 3+3 programs are offered in partnership with California State University, Northridge; and California State University, Dominguez Hills. Southwestern also offers LLM programs in individualized law studies and entertainment and media law.

A Welcoming 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 those who come to Southwestern, with students hailing from virtually every state, a dozen foreign countries and representing over 250 undergraduate institutions. About two-thirds of entering students 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 52 percent, while minorities make up 46 percent, and students report fluency in over 35 foreign languages. The average age is 27, with a range from 21 to 48. In recent years, Southwestern has had the highest representation of African American students and the second highest of Latino/Hispanic students of any California law school. A leader in diversity, Southwestern has received: First Place in the Law School Admission Council's 2017 Diversity Matters Award; California State Bar Organizational Diversity Award (only law school to ever earn it); the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity; and many more similar honors.

At Southwestern, the Student Bar Association sponsors award-winning student welfare and community outreach programs and oversees over 35 student organizations, including legal fraternities; minority, cultural, political, and religious groups; and societies focused on specific areas of law. Student Peer Mentors and Dean’s Scholars also provide support and guidance to first-year students.

Distinguished Faculty

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 levels, and most have significant practice experience in the private, government, or nonprofit sectors. Faculty members include internationally recognized experts in antitrust, civil rights, criminal justice, entertainment and media, environmental, ethics, human rights, intellectual property, international, technology, and trial advocacy. They have produced treatises and casebooks, as well as scholarly articles appearing in some of the most prominent law reviews and journals. They have led national studies on legal education curricula and legal careers and are often sought for their expertise by the legal and mainstream media. 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 Animal Law to Video Game Law.

An Inspiring Academic Environment

Southwestern has created a welcoming student-obsessed oasis within a campus that encompasses nearly two city blocks 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 the landmark Bullocks Wilshire building, featuring Internet access; spacious dining facilities and student lounges in restored historic areas; large terraces with panoramic city views; tranquil student commons and promenade plazas; a 10,000-square-foot fitness center; and one of the largest academic law library facilities in California. In the fall of 2013, the law school opened its first on-campus student residence complex with spacious, fully furnished studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units that accommodate 155 students.

An Innovative and Practice-Oriented Curriculum

With Southwestern’s location, faculty expertise, alumni presence, and history, the law school is a leader in curricular innovation and expertise and offers concentrations in Civil Litigation and Advocacy, Criminal Law and Advocacy, Entertainment and Media Law, Public Interest Law, and Technology Law and Entrepreneurship. Southwestern’s first-year curriculum provides a unique opportunity for new students to choose from three advocacy tracks in their legal research and writing course—appellate, negotiation, or trial practice—and to take an elective as early as their second semester. The upper division curriculum features 200+ electives, 150+ externship placements, eight clinics, and four practica. Offerings include over 50 professional skills courses, a January intersession, capstone courses, and specialized “mini-term” courses taught by international legal experts. A certificate program for JD students is available in Bioscience Industry Law and Practice through a partnership with the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. Southwestern also sponsors a London Summer-Abroad Program and semester-abroad options in North America, the Netherlands, and Argentina. A wide array of academic-success programs and courses, in addition to individualized counseling, is provided by the Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs Office, the Academic Success and Bar-Related Programs Office, 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 students for the practice of law in creative industries such as film, television, music, fashion, theater, advertising, sports, the news media, technology, and cybersecurity by offering the most comprehensive curriculum in the United States. 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 more than 45 courses, 50 externships, the Entertainment and the Arts Legal Clinic (underwritten by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association), an entertainment law firm practicum, and summer programs in Los Angeles and London. Other opportunities for students include the Biederman Scholars Program, a scholarly journal, and a nationally recognized entertainment law blog, as well as conferences and lecture series featuring industry leaders. Southwestern also established the first LLM degree program in Entertainment and Media Law in the country.

Honors Programs

Southwestern has established a rich tradition in trial and appellate advocacy and dispute resolution through an extensive curriculum and co-curricular programs. The Julian Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center, Trial Advocacy Honors Program Courtroom, and other court facilities provide students with a conducive environment in which to learn and perfect their litigation and advocacy skills. Those skills are evident in the performances of Southwestern’s award-winning Moot Court, Negotiation, and Trial Advocacy Honors Program teams who continue to earn numerous top awards around the country each year. 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, which publish scholarly articles contributed by noted jurists, attorneys, academicians, and students, and sponsor Distinguished Lecture Series and symposia on campus.

Public Interest Involvement

Located in the midst of the Los Angeles “public interest corridor,” Southwestern promotes public interest involvement through its multifaceted Public Service Program, with students devoting well over 17,000 hours each year to pro bono service in the community. Such activities are encouraged and recognized through special scholarship funds, the Woolverton Public Service Award, Southwestern Public Interest Law Service Awards, the Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program, Public Interest Summer Grants, the Domestic Violence Advocacy Initiative, and extensive opportunities for volunteer work with local schools and community organizations. Additionally, we have eight on-campus clinics and a large selection of public interest externships. During the annual Public Interest Law Event Series, the entire law school community rallies to raise awareness and funds supporting these public interest endeavors. Students’ public service contributions are formally recognized annually and at graduation.

Career Services and Alumni Network

The Career Services Office provides individualized career planning sessions and coordinates a full calendar of workshops, networking events, mock interviews, 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 Career Services Manager. The law school also offers several programs to help new graduates transition from students to professionals, including a graduate advancement program, public interest interim clerkships, and a law firm incubator consortium. A large and enthusiastic cadre of Southwestern alumni volunteer their time to help introduce students to the legal profession through networking events, small group dinners, mock interviews, workshops, panel presentations, on-campus interviews, and serving on the adjunct faculty.

While the majority of Southwestern graduates choose to practice in California, alumni can be found in virtually every state, two territories, and more than two dozen foreign countries. They include prominent leaders in local and national elected officials; local, state, and federal judicial officers; founders of major and boutique law firms; general counsel of major corporations; and top public interest lawyers. Southwestern alumni have served as members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, members of the California State Senate and Assembly and Speaker of the Assembly, California Secretary of State, California State Treasurer, and Los Angeles County District Attorney. Among Southwestern’s many trailblazing alumni are the longest-serving justice in the California Supreme Court’s history, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, the first Chinese American district court judge in the continental United States, the first female African American appellate court justice in the nation, the first Latina trial judge in the United States, and the first Native American judge in California.

Admission Criteria

Admission to Southwestern is selective, with emphasis placed on undergraduate GPA and LSAT scores earned within the past three years; however, community involvement, work experience, motivation, recommendations, and diversity are also significant factors. Transfer applications are considered from students who have successfully completed at least one year at another ABA-approved law school.

Financial Aid/Scholarships

About 90 percent of Southwestern’s students receive some form of financial aid that may include scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study funds. In addition to more than 80 institutional scholarship funds for continuing students, Southwestern awards book scholarships, housing scholarships (for on-campus residences), and merit scholarships (up to the full cost of tuition) to entering students in the JD programs who have demonstrated exceptional academic and leadership potential. Book scholarships and merit scholarships are renewable for students who meet the continuing academic performance requirements.

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Southwestern:

3.18 to 3.64

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Southwestern:

152 to 158

25-75% UGPA Range at Southwestern:

3.18 to 3.64

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Southwestern:

152 to 158

25-75% UGPA Range at Southwestern:

3.18 to 3.64

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Southwestern:

152 to 158

Contact Information

3050 Wilshire Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA 90010-1106,
United States