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Southwestern Law School

published September 17, 2007

Akbar Ali
( 55 votes, average: 4.7 out of 5)
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<<Since its founding in 1911, Southwestern has stood out because of its clearly defined goals of recruiting women, minorities, and the underprivileged who might otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue a degree in law. The school offers a variety of programs, including four notable J.D. programs: a three-year, full-time day program, a four-year, part-time day program, a four-year, part-time evening program, and an accelerated two-year, full-time program known as SCALE. The four-year, part-time day program, known as PLEAS (Part-time Legal Education Alternative at Southwestern) is specially designed for students with childcare responsibilities who can attend classes while their children are in school.

The school places a high premium on student success, and this is reflected in its unique history. An interesting fact: the first graduate of the law school was a woman in the early 20th century, a time when professional and academic options for women were limited at best. Similarly, retired justice and Southwestern graduate Arleigh Woods holds the distinction of being the first African-American woman appointed to the appellate state judiciary.


According to Dean Bryan Garth, "At Southwestern, we believe that the law school must make a comparable investment in each one of its students and that this investment must continue on both sides into the future, long after the student has left campus for professional life." Dean Garth is also credited with having retooled the first-year curriculum to better satisfy the needs of students, reorienting the focus on career development and legal skills. As a result of this revamping, the first week of school is spent entirely on what is referred to as the LAWS program, comprising Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills.

<<Southwestern Law School offers a number of programs not found elsewhere, including the nation's first LL.M. program in entertainment and media law. Many students have gone on to represent major entertainment studios and companies, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Lions Gate Entertainment, Virgin Records, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., and the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

The school also offers an externship program involving several major organizations, including the Federal Trade Commission, the Los Angeles city and district attorney's offices, the Los Angeles Superior Court, and the United States Attorney's Office. The school has also established an immigration and human rights clinic and a children's rights clinic.

For the 2006-2007 school year, tuition for full-time day students totaled $33,410, while part-time tuition for both the PLEAS and evening programs ran to $20,126. A full-time schedule encompasses 30 units and a part-time schedule 18, each credit unit costing $1,107. General additional expenses (room, board, transportation, etc.) are estimated to be about $2,200 per month. A minimum LSAT score of 150 and GPA of 3.25 are necessary for possible admission.

Notable alumni include prosecutor Marcia Clark of O.J. Simpson trial fame, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons, and Tom Bradley and Norris Poulson, both former mayors of Los Angeles.

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