Founded over 100 years ago, Southwestern Law School has developed a reputation for graduating lawyers who are well-rounded, entrepreneurial, and prepared to succeed. Southwestern offers a legacy of community, brilliant faculty, accomplished scholars, and trailblazing alumni. An ever-evolving curriculum and experiential learning opportunities challenge students, while the vibrant Los Angeles campus provides an ideal setting for the legal study, emphasizing diversity, public service, and civility.
A comprehensive curriculum
Southwestern is a leader in curricular innovation and expertise, particularly in the areas of entertainment and media law, international law, criminal law, and trial advocacy.
It is the only law school offering four J.D. programs differing in both scheduling and instructional approach. In addition to traditional full-time day and part-time evening programs, Southwestern has developed two innovative options: one of the only part-time day programs in the country designed to meet the needs of students with child- or elder-care responsibilities (“PLEAS”), and an intensive accelerated two-year J.D. program (“SCALE”). SCALE (in 1975) was the first ABA-approved program of its kind featuring small classes, practical skills training, and real-world experience.
The required curriculum is enriched by approximately 200 electives, about 460 annual externship placements, eight clinics, and four practica. Upper-division electives include over 50 professional skills courses, a January intersession, capstone courses, and special mini-term courses taught by international legal experts.
Southwestern offers a variety of options that promote a truly, individualized approach to legal education. Southwestern provides five concentrations (similar to an undergraduate major): Civil Litigation and Advocacy, Criminal Law and Advocacy, Entertainment and Media Law, Public Interest Law, and Technology Law and Entrepreneurship.
Upon meeting the curricular requirements of a concentration, students receive a designation on their transcript. Students earning a concentration GPA of 3.33 or higher in the designated courses receive an honors designation.
Entertainment law leader
Southwestern was the first law school to establish an institution for entertainment and media law.
Southwestern's internationally recognized Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute was established in 2000 to take advantage of the law school's long history of involvement with the entertainment and media industries. The Institute offers a rich spectrum of media and entertainment law courses and experiential learning opportunities under the direction of full-time and adjunct faculty having tremendous practical experience.
Southwestern has been recognized as one of the top ten law schools in the country for entertainment law by The Hollywood Reporter seven years in a row, and as #1 in the Top Law Schools for Entertainment Law by lawstreetmedia.com, among other honors.
Experiential learning in a real-world context
While classroom learning is essential, the most rewarding hours in law school are those students spend applying what they have learned in class to the real-world environment. Southwestern offers valuable and practical hands-on experiences through clinics, externships, practica, and public interest opportunities.
Southwestern’s externship program, one of the largest in the country, provides students with an opportunity to directly experience the attorney’s role through a variety of structured on-site placements. Southwestern students participate in approximately 460 externships annually. About three-quarters of students complete at least one externship, and more than one-quarter complete two externships as part of their J.D. curriculum.
Southwestern also operates eight clinics in which students work on real cases for academic credit under the close supervision and guidance of faculty who are practicing attorneys. Students take on substantial responsibility for strategizing and executing on an array of legal matters and are often involved in cases from beginning to end. Students at Southwestern devote well over 20,000 hours each year to pro bono service in the community. Southwestern clinics: Appellate Litigation Clinic, Children’s Rights Clinic, Community Lawyering Clinic, Entertainment & the Arts Legal Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Immigration Law Clinic, Street Law Clinic, and the Youth Offender Parole Hearing Clinic.
A vibrant and diverse community
Southwestern students have a strong sense of community. They come from virtually every state, more than a dozen countries, and represent over 200 undergraduate institutions. In the most recent entering class, women represent 52 percent, while minorities make up about 45 percent, and students report fluency in over 20 foreign languages. The average age is 27, with a range from 21 to about 50. Recently, Southwestern was ranked the 8th best ABA law school for diversity and was ranked in the top tier for Asian, African-American, and Latino students. The Student Bar Association sponsors award-winning student welfare and community outreach programs and oversees student organizations, including legal fraternities; minority, cultural, political, and religious groups; and societies focused on specific areas of law.
Student success from pre-law to bar preparation and beyond
Southwestern dedicates a wide range of resources to help students succeed academically while enhancing the overall law-school experience. There are more than 30 student organizations offering opportunities to socialize, develop networking skills, and connect with students, professors, and alumni. Peer Mentors / Dean’s Fellows act as student guides to help students navigate and succeed in a new environment. The Academic Excellence Academy is a noncredit pre-law summer program providing a comprehensive introduction to the study of law, and the Writing Center offers individualized assistance and specialized workshops. Additionally, Southwestern delivers special bar prep programming designed to assist students in stress management. Southwestern’s campus includes a counseling center, wellness programs including relaxation therapy, and a no-cost-to-students 10,000 square-foot fitness center.
Southwestern’s Career Services Office supports its students from their first semester to post-bar and throughout their careers. Students and alumni benefit from individualized career counseling and planning, workshops, and recruitment events.
Ten months after graduation, 80 percent of the 2017 graduating class reported being employed. Of those, 133 were employed in law firms, 61 in business/industry, 18 by the government, 10 in public interest, three in education, and two had judicial clerkships. One-hundred percent of 2017 graduates who passed the bar exam reported being employed within ten months of graduation.