The selection of the right institution plays an important role in the life of a graduate. A degree is a significant investment and the ROI from the institution should be as well. This investment should also bear benefits such as adequate exposure to relevant industries; a robust, practical curriculum; a strong alumni network that helps students make contacts in the future; and promising career paths.
All of the abovementioned criteria are met by California Western School of Law.
Founded in 1924, California Western is San Diego, California’s, oldest law school and was one of the first law schools in the United States to offer an LL.M. program for international lawyers. California Western is ranked third among all U.S. law schools for required experiential learning credits and among the top 10 in the country for diversity.
The school’s urban campus is located near the heart of downtown San Diego, only blocks from both state and federal courthouses, as well as city administrative offices. This provides the perfect opportunity for students, alumni, and staff to establish and nurture strong connections within the city’s legal community.
San Diego is the eighth largest city in the country, hosts a diverse population, is home to one of the largest concentrations of high tech and biotech companies, and boasts the highest number of doctorate degree graduates in the United States. It is an ideal location in which to learn, grow, and prosper.
Five Core Pillars
With an abundance of positive data from the Law Student Satisfaction & Engagement Survey (LSSSE), California Western has a long history of delivering an excellent educational experience in a welcoming and inclusive environment. The school credits its faculty and staff, who are committed to the success of every student both during law school and beyond and are known for taking a personal interest in students’ educational and professional goals.
California Western’s legacy of educational excellence rests on five core pillars:
Making law accessible—looking beyond traditional indicators to identify students who demonstrate the potential to be good lawyers.
Making law applicable—education that is doctrinal and experiential, providing students many opportunities to put new knowledge into practice.
Pursuing justice—work rooted in real-world matters of legal consequence that benefit both California Western students and society.
Giving back—California Western students contribute more than 15,000 hours of pro bono work every year.
Nurturing a welcoming and supportive community—ranked among The Top 10 Most Diverse Law Schools, California Western has an unwavering commitment to supporting traditionally underrepresented individuals at the bar. Diversity and inclusion are also celebrated in faculty and staff hires and in the content of the curriculum and academic initiatives.
Striving for Excellence
California Western is a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), and is a candidate for accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Powered by these associations, California Western is an institution where passion meets profession. The school is committed to tapping into the law to address human and societal problems. Its mission is to train ethical, principled, and socially responsible lawyers, representative of our diverse society, who can use the law effectively and creatively—lawyers who have passion for doing good, passion for people, and passion for justice.
The LL.M./ M.C.L. program at California Western is one of the most established law programs for international students in the United States. Over the past 40 years, more than 600 students from more than 60 countries have graduated from the program.
California Western is a leader in offering international students the opportunity to work with clients in supervised clinics; participate in supervised externships; and develop their professional skills by taking practical courses. The school also offers a range of more traditional courses taught by experts in their fields.
California Western’s highly selective program limits the number of admitted LL.M. and M.C.L. students so that the school can ensure each student has one-on-one guidance and support from the program directors. And at the same time, LL.M. and M.C.L. students take most of their classes alongside J.D. students and are welcome to participate in the many extracurricular activities offered to the very diverse J.D. student body.
LL.M./ M.C.L. program alumni work in many areas of law in San Diego and around the world—in private practice, as judges and political officials, as members of law faculties, and in businesses. And the school’s global network of alumni is happy to help new students while they are attending the program and afterward.
California Western is home to projects and clinics including the California Innocence Project, the Community Law Project, the nationally acclaimed New Media Rights clinic, an immigration clinic, and the recently established Latin American Institute of Law and Justice.
At a time when ‘practice-ready’ has become a buzzword in legal education, these hands-on programs and clinics offer students unprecedented opportunities for practical training, experience, and application. Through them, the students have numerous opportunities to pursue justice at home and abroad.
Based on the most current results from the ABA, 84 percent of students pass the bar within 2 years of graduation. California Western’s class of 2018 self-reported an 83 percent employment lawyers within 10 months of graduation (the survey had a 93.3 percent return).
To assist students and alumni in their professional pursuits, the school’s Career and Professional Development Office provides career-long support. The office begins working with students early in their law school experience to facilitate the transition from student to a legal professional and then continues to guide them as alumni throughout their careers.
“Our attorney-advisors draw from more than 65 years of legal experience in a wide range of practice areas and settings to guide students in their search for the career path that best matches their values, interests, goals, and skills. Our aim is to ensure students are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and expertise to make them as competitive as possible.”
Creating an engaged, supportive alumni network is crucial to an institution’s success. California Western has an active network of alumni throughout the United States and beyond. The school has alumni clubs in Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Denver, CO; Honolulu, HI; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Orange County, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Sacramento, CA; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Bangkok, Thailand; and Washington, D.C.
The Path Ahead
Nearing its centennial, California Western is financially strong, academically respected, welcoming and inclusive. In the forthcoming years, the school will continue to make significant and measurable contributions to advancing knowledge and solving problems in the community, society, and the world. It will also take part in disseminating knowledge in public discussion on legal matters and serving as a community legal education resource.