Open main menu

UCLA School of Law

The UCLA School of Law, also referred to as UCLA Law, is one of 12 professional schools[6] at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA Law has been consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 20 law schools in the United States since the inception of the U.S. News rankings in 1987. Its 17,000 alumni include more judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit than any other law school, as well as leaders in private law practice, government service, the judiciary, sports and entertainment law, and public interest law. As part of a renowned public university, the school's mission is to provide an excellent legal education while expanding access to the legal professional to those who otherwise would not be able to pursue a legal degree.[7] The dean of the school is Jennifer L. Mnookin., an evidence scholar who joined the UCLA Law faculty in 2005 and became the school's ninth dean, and third female dean, in 2015.[8]

UCLA School of Law
UCLA School of Law logo.svg
Parent schoolUniversity of California, Los Angeles
School typePublic
Parent endowment$3 billion (2018)[1]
DeanJennifer Mnookin (June 2015)[2]
LocationLos Angeles, California, U.S.
USNWR ranking15th (2019)[4]
Bar pass rate88%
ABA profile[5]


The Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library, UCLA School of Law

Founded in 1949, the UCLA School of Law is the third oldest of the five law schools within the University of California system.

In the 1930s, initial efforts to establish a law school at UCLA went nowhere as a result of resistance from UC President Robert Gordon Sproul, and because UCLA's supporters eventually refocused their efforts on first adding medical and engineering schools.[9]

During the mid-1940s, the impetus for the creation of the UCLA School of Law emerged from outside of the UCLA community. Assemblyman William Rosenthal of Boyle Heights (on the other side of Los Angeles from UCLA) conceived of and fought for the creation of the first public law school in Southern California as a convenient and affordable alternative to the expensive private law school at USC.[10][11][12] Rosenthal's first attempt in 1945 failed, but his second attempt was able to gain momentum when the State Bar of California and the UCLA Alumni Association announced their support for the bill.[11] On July 18, 1947, Governor Earl Warren authorized the appropriation of $1 million for the construction of a new law school at UCLA by signing Assembly Bill 1361 into state law.[10][11][12]

The search for the law school's first dean was difficult and delayed its opening by a year.[11] UCLA's Law School Planning Committee prioritized merit, while the then-conservative Regents of the University of California prioritized political beliefs.[10] Another factor was a simultaneous deanship vacancy at Berkeley Law.[11] Near the end of 1948, the Committee finally identified a sufficiently conservative candidate willing to take the job: L. Dale Coffman, then the dean of Vanderbilt University Law School.[10] The Regents believed Coffman would help bring balance to the UCLA campus, which they saw as overrun by Communists.[10]

Dean Coffman was able to recruit several distinguished faculty to UCLA, including Roscoe Pound, Brainerd Currie, Rollin M. Perkins, and Harold Verrall.[10][11] To build a law library, he hired Thomas S. Dabagh, then the law librarian of the Los Angeles County Law Library.[10][11] The UCLA School of Law officially opened in September 1949 in temporary quarters in former military barracks behind Royce Hall, and moved into a permanent home upon the completion of the original Law Building in 1951.[10][11][12]

Coffman's deanship did not end well, due to his vindictive and strongly prejudiced personality.[10][11][12] One sign of early trouble was when he drove out Dabagh in 1952 after they could not bridge their fundamental differences over how to run the law library, which was widely regarded around the UCLA community as contributing to Dabagh's early death in 1959.[10] On September 21, 1955, the faculty revolted in the form of a memorandum to Chancellor Raymond B. Allen alleging that Coffman was categorically refusing to hire Jews or anyone he perceived to be leftist, and that the school's reputation was deteriorating because Coffman's abrasive personality had led to excessive faculty turnover.[10][12] On May 24, 1956, Coffman was stripped of his deanship after a lengthy investigation by a panel of deans of his biases and his "dictatorial, undemocratic, and autocratic" management style.[10] He remained on the faculty until his forced retirement in 1973, but continued to face allegations as late as 1971 that he was "an unreconstructed McCarthyite and pro-segregationist."[12]

Coffman's successor was Richard C. Maxwell, who served as the second dean of UCLA Law from 1958 to 1969.[13] Dean Maxwell "presided over happier, more harmonious years of institutional growth,"[12] and it was under his deanship that UCLA became "the youngest top-ranked law school in the country."[13] Dabagh's successor, Louis Piacenza, was able to grow the law school's library collection to 143,000 volumes by May 1963, which at that time was the 14th largest law school library in the United States.[12]

By 1963, the law school had 600 students in a building designed for 550, and the Law Building's deficiencies had become all too evident, such as a complete lack of air conditioning.[12] In October 1963, the law school administration announced a major remodeling and expansion project, which added air conditioning and a new wing to the building. During the 1960s, the law school grew so quickly that the new wing was already insufficient upon its completion in January 1967.[12] From its founding to the end of the 20th century, UCLA Law struggled with severe overcrowding, as librarians, faculty, staff, and as many as 18 student organizations—at one point, more than any other law school in the United States—competed for limited space in the Law Building for books, classes, conferences, and offices.[12] After four grueling years of construction, the chronic space shortage was ultimately relieved by the completion of the new Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library on January 22, 2000.[12]


UCLA Law has approximately 950 students in its Juris Doctor (J.D.) program and 200 students in its Masters of Law (LL.M.) program, which is popular among foreign students intending to take the California Bar Exam. It also offers a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program for students who already have a J.D. and hope to become law professors.

The school was a pioneer in clinical legal education and today offers a strong experiential education program. Through clinical courses and related offerings, the school gives students the opportunity to directly represent clients in a variety of settings while under expert supervision. UCLA Law’s clinics also provide service to many people who cannot afford to pay for their own legal services, including veterans, the homeless, and indigent individuals appearing in criminal and immigration courts. In 2017, the school opened the Documentary Film Legal Clinic and Music Industry Clinic, which provide legal services to aspiring visual journalists, musicians and entrepreneurs in the arts, and the Veterans Justice Clinic at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

UCLA Law offers the only Critical Race Studies program in the country, focusing on the intersection between race and law. It also has a robust public interest program, offering TK. Its most prominent centers, programs and institutes include the Critical Race Studies program, the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy; the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment; the Lowell Milken Institute on Business Law and Policy; the Promise Institute for Human Rights; the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy; the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy; and the Ziffren Center on Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

Students can elect to specialize in Business Law and Policy, Entertainment Law, Environmental Law, Public Interest Law, Critical Race Studies, and Law and Philosophy. The roughly 300 students who begin Law School at UCLA every year are divided into sections to encourage a sense of community. Students take all of their first year courses with their sections.[14]

Several joint degree programs are available, which require four years of study and result in the simultaneous award of a Juris Doctor and master's degree in Afro-American Studies, American Indian Studies, Law and Management, Public Health, Public Policy, Philosophy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning.[15]

Faculty and StudentsEdit

UCLA School of Law has a faculty of over 100 members with expertise in all major disciplines of law, representing "one of the most diverse in the country."[16] Thirteen members of the school's tenured faculty have been recognized for being the most-cited scholars in their areas of specialty.[17] The school faculty is ranked 11th[18] for scholarship, up from 15th in 2010 and 13th in 2013.

In 2018, 6,243 students applied to attend UCLA Law, and 311 were enrolled.[19] The average LSAT score for members of the entering Class of 2018 is 168. The average LSAT score for students in the 75th percentile is 169, and 165 for students in the 25th percentile it is 165. The average GPA for members of the entering Class of 2018 is 3.72. The average GPA score for students in the 75th percentile is 3.85, and for students in the 25th percentile it is 3.52.

J.D. Entering Class of 2018 Profile[20]
  • 123 Undergraduate schools represented
  • 52% Female; 48% Male
  • 41% Students of color
  • 58% California Residents; 42% Non-residents
  • 10% majored in engineering, technology, science or math
  • 14% are the first in their families to have completed college

International Human Rights Law ProgramEdit

The International Human Rights Law Program, founded in 2008, is an organization for human rights education, scholarship, advocacy, and policy-oriented research.[21] It includes the Sanela Diana Jenkins International Justice Clinic,[22] which assists in the apprehension and prosecution of alleged war criminals in Bosnia, initially focusing on the relations between Ratko Mladic, formerly head of the Bosnian Serb Army, and others accused of involvement in the Srebrenica massacre.[23] Haris Silajdžić, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, will work closely with the program.[24]


UCLA School of Law's south entrance facing Charles E. Young Drive East

UCLA School of Law is located on the UCLA campus in the Westwood area of Los Angeles.[25] The school is located approximately five miles from the Pacific Ocean and 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The UCLA campus sits in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, between the communities of Brentwood to the west, Bel Air to the north, Holmby Hills to the east and Westwood to the south. The school is easily accessible via Wilshire Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard and Interstate 405.

The school proper is housed in a three-story brick building, with the library tower extending to four stories. A few offices, including the Office of Career Services, the Office of Admissions and the Office of Graduate Studies and International Programs, are housed in an adjacent building, Dodd Hall.


In 2019, US News & World Report ranked UCLA as 15th among U.S. law schools,[4] 4th in environmental law and 8th in tax law.[4]

According to Brian Leiter's Law School rankings, UCLA Law ranks 8th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty during the years 2009–2013.[26]

The Hollywood Reporter ranked UCLA the number one school for entertainment law in its inaugural 2012 rankings, and every year from 2014 through 2019.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

Bar passage ratesEdit

In July 2017, UCLA Law's bar passage was 88%,[34] compared to a statewide average for first-time test-takers of 62%.

American Bar Association data shows that (94%) of 2017 graduates had secured full-time, long-term, JD-required employment within ten months of graduation.


Journals and law reviewsEdit

  • UCLA Law Review
  • UCLA Asian/Pacific American Law Journal
  • UCLA Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review
  • UCLA Criminal Justice Law Review
  • UCLA Disability Law Journal
  • UCLA Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law
  • UCLA Entertainment Law Review
  • UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance
  • UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy
  • UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs
  • UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law
  • UCLA Journal of Law & Technology
  • UCLA National Black Law Journal
  • UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal
  • UCLA Women’s Law Journal

Notable peopleEdit

Alumni (Graduates)Edit


Business and private practiceEdit

Government and politicsEdit








  1. ^ "UCLA Foundation - Endowment and Finances".
  2. ^ "News".
  3. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b c "University of California—Los Angeles". U.S. News & World Report – Best Law Schools. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools".
  6. ^ "Graduate & Professional Education | UCLA".
  7. ^ "How Does University of California--Los Angeles School of Law Rank Among America's Best Law Schools?".
  8. ^ "Jennifer Mnookin named new dean of UCLA School of Law".
  9. ^ Dundjerski, Marina (2011). UCLA: The First Century. Los Angeles: Third Millennium Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 9781906507374. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rastorfer, Renee Y. (Summer 2003). "Thomas S. Dabagh and the Institutional Beginnings of the UCLA Law Library: A Cautionary Tale". Law Library Journal. 95 (3): 347–368. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dundjerski, Marina (2011). UCLA: The First Century. Los Angeles: Third Millennium Publishing. p. 118. ISBN 9781906507374. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Dewey, Scott Hamilton (May 2016). "Growing Pains: The History of the UCLA Law Library, 1949-2000". Law Library Journal. 108 (2): 217–236. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  13. ^ a b Moidel, Selma Moidel (2016). "The UCLA School of Law - Origin, Conflict, and Growth" (PDF). California Legal History. 11: 1–6. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  14. ^ Cynthia L. Cooper, The Insider's Guide to the Top Fifteen Law Schools (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 343 & 345.
  15. ^ "Joint Degree Programs". UCLA Law School website. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  16. ^ Cooper, 345.
  17. ^ "13 UCLA Law Faculty Among Most Cited Legal Scholars". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  18. ^ Zeman, Nicole; Veenis, Katherine; Catlin, Nicole; Sisk, Gregory C. (2018). "Scholarly Impact of Law School Faculties in 2018: Updating the Leiter Score Ranking for the Top Third". SSRN 3230371. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "UCLA Law Class Profile".
  20. ^ "School Facts".
  21. ^ International Human Rights Law Program | Centers & Programs | UCLA Law
  22. ^ “Bosnian's $4 million funds UCLA war crimes clinic,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2008
  23. ^ “Law Clinic to Focus on Bosnia,” California Lawyer Magazine
  24. ^ UCLA Today Online, September 22, 2008
  25. ^ Cooper, 359.
  26. ^ "New Document".
  27. ^ Belloni, Matthew (July 20, 2012). "America's Top Ten Entertainment Law Schools". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  28. ^ Kirby, Brandon (April 30, 2014). "Power Lawyers 2014: The Top 12 Entertainment Law Schools for Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  29. ^ Porreca, Brian (April 29, 2015). "Top 12 Entertainment Law Schools Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  30. ^ Porreca, Brian (April 22, 2016). "Top Law Schools: 11 Colleges and Universities Where Hollywood's Power Lawyers Got Started". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  31. ^ Porreca, Brian (May 2, 2017). "Hollywood's Top Law Schools: 12 Colleges and Universities Where THR's Power Lawyers Got Started". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  32. ^ Porreca, Brian (April 5, 2018). "The Top 10 Entertainment Law Schools 2018, Ranked". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  33. ^ THR Staff (April 1, 2019). "Hollywood's Top Law Schools: 10 Colleges and Universities Where THR's Power Lawyers Got Started". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  34. ^ "UCLA Law Class Profile".
  35. ^ "#251 David P Steiner". Forbes. April 28, 2010.
  36. ^ Peter B. Carlisle Archived 2007-12-19 at the Wayback Machine, National District Attorneys Association. Accessed December 3, 2007.
  37. ^ UCLA International Institute Archived 2014-01-02 at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit