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One who doesn't know much about Southwestern University School of Law might ask, as one of 15 private ABA-approved law schools in California, what is unique and distinctive about Southwestern? Upon closer examination, Southwestern University School of Law offers unique excellence in its curriculum and its student success, due in part to its location, history, faculty expertise, and alumni presence in the community.
Southwestern has developed a reputation for leadership and merit in several areas, including: entertainment and media law, international law, criminal law, and trial advocacy/litigation. Southwestern also sponsors summer law programs in Cambridge, England; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Vancouver, Canada; and Guanajuato, Mexico.
Regarding its unique curriculum, Southwestern is the only law school with four courses of study leading to the J.D. degree. The school offers traditional full-time and part-time (part-time day and part-time night) programs, as well as a unique two-year alternative curriculum. The only Los Angeles area law school on a subway route, Southwestern is within a block of the Wilshire Center Metro Rail station providing convenient access to businesses, courts and government offices in the downtown district, Hollywood and the Valley. Southwestern alumni include public officials-from members of Congress to mayors, district attorneys, and over 200 judges-as well as founders of major law firms and general counsels of multinational corporations.
The one facet of the curriculum that stands out above other schools' is that Southwestern offers a first-of-its-kind Master of Laws in Entertainment and Media Law degree. Southwestern established the Donald E. Biederman National Entertainment and Media Law Institute, with the largest contingent of full-time entertainment and media law faculty at any law school. Southwestern can draw upon a deep pool of alumni and adjunct faculty who hold prominent positions in the entertainment and media industries. It doesn't hurt that the school is in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world and has a great laboratory in Los Angeles to work from. Southwestern also maintains ongoing relationships with the major entertainment and media organizations in the area, such as the studios, guilds, agencies, and law firms in the industry.
To illustrate how The Entertainment and Media Institute draws upon the media and entertainment industry, they sponsor a series of "Conversations With…" discussions that feature prominent publishers, tv and film executives, senior counsel for entertainment and media enterprises and public officials. These conversations offer an exploration of the various contemporary issues relating to the internet, music publishing, copyright, and on and on. The classes offered can range from learning about licensing and copyright to software, motion pictures, and music publishing. Southwestern is a great place to keep your pulse on the evolving law in these fields.
Southwestern's distinctive location is definitely an asset, fronting Wilshire Boulevard. Located in the midst of major law firms, corporate headquarters, Superior Court facilities, film studios, and guilds, the school is also within 30 minutes of quiet canyons overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It offers the best of both worlds… you can take advantage of the many stimulating opportunities in the Los Angeles area, and then enjoy the tranquility of a sunset over the Pacific. From the bustling city of Los Angeles to the hush of its landmark law library, the Southwestern campus is an environment that inspires contemplation and study, collaboration and community.
People who are interested in the history and glamour of old Hollywood would be fascinated to learn about the history of Bullocks Wilshire. (The location of Southwestern's library, conference rooms and seminar rooms.) The building was conceived by John J. Bullock and designed by John and Donald Parkinson, who also designed other landmarks in Los Angeles, such as the Coliseum, City Hall, and Union Station. The architects gained their inspiration at the 1925 Exposition of Decorative and Modern Arts In Paris, where the art deco style, or "moderne," style was introduced. It was finished in 1929 and was a modern and beautiful building in its day. Regarding its history, the Bullocks Wilshire was originally a department store… and unlike any department store that preceded it. It was the first department store located in the suburbs, the first to feature specialty boutiques, and the first to cater to the automobile. In the early years, patrons drove their cars to the motor court and a valet escorted them in. Residents of the wealthy surrounding communities of Hancock Park, Windsor Square and Fremont Place flocked to the stylish new store, and so did Hollywood's elite. John Wayne, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Mae West and many other stars were regular customers. This sort of clientele helped the store survive the Great Depression, which began a month after its opening.
Southwestern bought the building in 1994 from bankruptcy court to accommodate its growing law library, faculty and student body. And, the restoration has continued. The former Tea Room has taken on a life of its own, serving as a dining area and center for informal gatherings of students and faculty and visiting scholars.
As is evident, Southwestern is indeed unique among law schools. With its historic, beautiful buildings and innovative curriculum, it does stand out among the many law schools in California. One other unique feature is that Southern University School of Law is a "stand alone" law school. The law school is the sole program of the University.
Southwestern strives to prepare its students for real-life experiences in the legal community. It does this through its successful Moot Court Intramural Competition, many externships, keeping relations going with the community, as well as its Career Counseling.