Gonzaga University School of Law

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Gonzaga University School of Law
GU Law Seal.jpeg
Motto Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
For the greater glory of God
Parent school Gonzaga University
Established 1912
School type Private
Dean Jane B. Korn
Location Spokane, Washington, USA
47°39′48″N 117°24′03″W / 47.6633°N 117.4008°W / 47.6633; -117.4008Coordinates: 47°39′48″N 117°24′03″W / 47.6633°N 117.4008°W / 47.6633; -117.4008
Enrollment 506[1]
Faculty 69 (Full- and part-time)[1]
USNWR ranking 107[2]
Bar pass rate 85.7%[1]
Website www.law.gonzaga.edu
ABA profile Gonzaga Law Profile
Gonzaga Law School Logo.png

The Gonzaga University School of Law (also known as Gonzaga Law or GU Law) is the professional school for the study of law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, USA. Established in 1912, the law school is viewed as a strong institution in the Pacific Northwest. The school is fully accredited by the American Bar Association, and a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Alumni of Gonzaga University School of Law practice in all 50 U.S. states.

The current Gonzaga University School of Law building was completed in May 2000, and is situated on the Spokane River on the southern edge of the Gonzaga University campus, and also contains the large Chastek Law Library. The library houses more than 380,000 volumes and is part of the Federal Depository Library Program. The school's location in Spokane, the largest city in the Inland Northwest, allows students to take advantage of internships with private firms, and government and not-for-profit agencies, along with opportunities with both federal and state judges, as Spokane is home to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.


Gonzaga University campus in the fall, with Lake Arthur pictured, and the law school visible in the background.

Gonzaga University was established in 1887 as a private, Jesuit institution, and by 1912, the leadership of the University desired the creation of a law school program. Founded on the motto “A First Class Law School, or None at All,” Gonzaga University School of Law opened its doors on October 1, 1912. Two classrooms on the third floor of the Administration Building were provided for the law school. The school’s first dean was Edward J. Cannon. In June 1915, Gonzaga University School of Law graduated its first law class of 13 students.[3]

During the first half of the 20th century, the law school continued to expand its enrollment and curriculum, and by the 1960s, the school had outgrown its facilities. Gonzaga University President Father John Leary, S.J., acquired a nearby vacant grade school in July 1962 for the law school. The former Webster School was originally built in 1901, was the victim of a fire in 1945, and was subsequently restored as a trade school. The former Webster School would house the law school for the next thirty-eight years.[3]

In the 1970s, the law school experienced explosive growth, and the law school building underwent several renovations. In 1974, it opened one of the country's first legal clinics. By the 1990s, the law school occupied the old Webster school along with several adjacent buildings. Under Dean John Clute, fundraising was begun to build a new law school building. The class of 2000 was the last to graduate from the old law building. In late May 2000, the new Gonzaga University School of Law building, located on the banks of the Spokane River, opened its doors.[3] The new building is 104,000 square feet (9,700 m2), and was completed at a cost of $18.5 million. In 2014, The National Jurist magazine's preLaw magazine gave the school an 'A-' rating, ranking it among the Top 46 Law School facilities in the nation.[4]


In 2014, the school enrolled 128 students in the 1L class.[5] The median GPA was 3.24 and the median LSAT score was 153 (65th percentile).[6]

Students of the entering class hailed from 24 states, and 64 undergraduate colleges and universities.[7] Underrepresented ethnic minorities comprised 19 percent of the 1L class.[8] In 2013, The National Jurist Magazine's preLaw magazine named GU Law the #3 Top School for Latter-day Saint students and the #8 Most Devout Catholic Law School.[9]

Rankings and honors[edit]

The U.S. News & World Report law school rankings placed Gonzaga Law at 107 in the U.S. in 2014.[2] In 2014, The National Jurist listed Gonzaga Law in the top 36 schools for practical legal training (an A- rating).[10] The Princeton Review listed Gonzaga Law in the "Best 169 Law Schools" list again for 2014. (The list does not provide a final comprehensive ranking of schools overall.)[11] The 2015 U.S. News Peer Reputation Ranking numbers the school in the top 100.[12]

Gonzaga Law was ranked the 58th best law school in the U.S., according to the U.S. News & World Report 2011 survey of highly regarded American law firms, included in U.S. News' 2012 edition of the book "Best Graduate Schools."[13] And Moody's Employment Rankings put it at #63 in 2014.[14] In 2009, the National Jurist ranked Gonzaga Law among the 65 best value law schools in the U.S.[15]

Gonzaga Law has also received national recognition as supporting one of the most innovative law school curricula in the U.S.[16] The school was one of ten schools awarded a Diversity Matters Award from the Law School Admissions Council for its diversity outreach efforts in 2013.[17]

Bar passage rates[edit]

In February 2014, 85.7% of Gonzaga Law students taking the Washington bar exam (both first and non-first time takers), the highest rate of any Washington law school by 16%.[18] In July 2013, 91% of Gonzaga Law students taking the Washington bar exam for the first time passed, while those taking out-of-state bar exams had an 89% passage rate. The Washington state average rate was 84.8% in July 2013.[19] In February 2013, 80% of Gonzaga Law students taking the Washington bar exam for the first time passed, compared to the Washington state average of 58.7%.

Post-graduation employment[edit]

According to Gonzaga Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 60.2% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners.[20] GU Law ranked 57th among ABA-approved law schools in terms of the percentage of 2013 graduates with non-school-funded, full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs nine months after graduation.[21]

GU Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 24.2%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[22] 88.2% of the Class of 2013 was employed in some capacity while 4.3% were pursuing graduate degrees and 7.5% were unemployed nine months graduation.[20]


The total cost of yearly attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Gonzaga Law is estimated as $53,287.[23]

The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $202,601.[24]

Degrees and curriculum[edit]

The law school offers a traditional J.D., an accelerated J.D., a J.D. for internationally educated lawyers, and joint J.D./graduate degree programs.

J.D. Program[edit]

The law school offers a traditional Juris Doctor (J.D.) program comprising 90 semester hours of credit that full-time students may complete in three years.

First Year[edit]

The first-year program contains six separate doctrinal courses totaling 22 credit hours, including four credit hours of Legal Research & Writing, and four credit hours split evenly between two new Skills and Professionalism Labs. The six doctrinal courses include Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, and a new course titled Perspectives on the Law. During fall semester of the first year, students take a two-credit Skills and Professionalism Lab that uses the rules of Civil Procedure and the substantive law of Torts to teach them the skills they will need to be litigators. During spring semester, students take a two-credit Skills and Professionalism Lab that uses the substantive law of Contracts and Property to teach them the skills they will need to be transactional lawyers.

Second Year[edit]

The second-year LR&W III and IV are reconstituted to build upon not only what students learned in their first-year LR&W classes, but also upon what they have covered in their two Skills and Professionalism Labs. In the spring semester of the second year, LR&W IV allows students to choose between four capstone writing options (Judicial Opinion Writing, Advanced Advocacy, Drafting for Litigation, and Transactional Drafting). Students are also expected to take doctrinal courses in Constitutional Law and Evidence.

Third Year[edit]

The third-year curriculum includes a requirement that all students earn at least three credits in either the school's clinic or its externship program. The impetus behind this requirement is to assure that each student graduates with some experience in applying their classroom knowledge and simulated skill set in an actual law practice setting.[25]

Students also have the opportunity to participate in the University Legal Assistance clinical programs, serve on one of the law school’s scholarly journals, audition for one of the law school's trial or moot court teams, or study abroad. Optional programs in the law school include the international law study abroad programs in Florence, Italy and Antigua, Guatemala. The Florence Summer Law Program affords students the ability to live in Italy on Gonzaga University's Florence campus for a summer, participate in a legal course of study, and travel to various sites in Europe. The Guatemala Inter-American Program is a truly bilingual and inter-cultural approach including law classes about Latin America taught in English and Spanish and bilingual field placements. These classes take place at Rafael Landívar University.

Students are also permitted to attend other ABA-approved law schools for a semester or longer if an area of legal study is not available at Gonzaga University.

Accelerated J.D. Program[edit]

The law school also offers a two-year Accelerated J.D. Program requiring consecutive year-round study and special admission. It is the first law school in the Northwest to offer such a program.[26]

J.D. Program for Internationally Educated Lawyers[edit]

The law school also offers a 15 month J.D. Program for Internationally Educated Lawyers designed to prepare international law graduates for transnational legal practice relating to U.S. clients or transactions.[27] Students must have a law degree from a university outside of the United States to earn a U.S. J.D. degree. The program provides skills training and legal analysis for multilingual lawyers. It can be completed in as little as 15 months and includes three legal research and writing courses.[28]

Joint-Degree Programs[edit]

The law school offers three joint-degree programs:

Clinic program[edit]

The law school opened one of the country's first legal clinics in 1974. Today, the law school is recognized in the Pacific Northwest for the Gonzaga Center for Law and Justice, a not-for-profit University Legal Assistance clinical program. Clinic students represent clients who are residents of the Spokane area, require legal representation, and who are without the means to hire a traditional lawyer. The structure of the Clinic is modeled after a large law firm, and the Clinic specializes in family law, elder law, civil rights, disability rights, and criminal defense. Students control their own case loads, and represent clients in court under the supervision of law school faculty, and with limited licenses to practice law. Students work 40 billable hours for each clinic credit hour.

The clinical programs available include:

  • Business Law Clinic
  • Elder Law Clinic
  • Environmental Public Interest Clinic
  • Federal Indian Law Clinic
  • Federal Tax Clinic
  • General Practice Clinic
  • Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic

Centers and institutes[edit]


The law school currently publishes two legal journals. Student staff members are selected based on a writing competition, editing competition, and first-year grades, or a publishable note or comment on a legal topic.

Noted People[edit]


  • Prof. Upendra D. Acharya[29] - Executive Council Member for the Asian Society of International Law, Sr. Research Fellow at the Center of Teaching and Research of WTO Disputes
  • Prof. Scott J. Burnham[30] - Author of Drafting and Analyzing Contracts (Lexis-Nexis) and Contract Law for Dummies (Wiley), ALI member
  • Prof. David K. DeWolf[31] - Leading Washington expert on tort law; Author of Washington Tort Law & Practice and Washington Contract Law & Practice (Thomson Reuters)
  • Prof. Jason Gillmer[32] - Noted legal scholar on race, slavery, and civil rights, including issues of racial intimacy, racial identity, and racial and class ideology
  • Prof. Gerry Hess[33] - Author of What The Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press)
  • Dean Jane B. Korn[34] - Noted legal scholar on employment discrimination, particularly based on disability
  • Prof. Keven H. Michels[35] - Author of leading New Jersey treatise on ethics New Jersey Attorney Ethics (Gann), ALI member
  • Prof. Stephen L. Sepinuck[36] - Regent of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers, Chair of ABA's UCC Committee (2006-2009), ABA Advisor to the Joint Review Committee on the UCC Article 9, ALI member
  • Judge Debra L. Stephens[37] - Washington State Supreme Court Justice

Former faculty[edit]


The law school's alumni actively practice in all 50 states in the nation and include five current State Supreme Court justices, a former Governor of Washington, former U.S. Congressmen, a number of U.S. federal judges, and state attorneys general in several states. The current president of the Washington State Bar Association is also an alumnus.


  1. ^ a b c "Official ABA Data". Gonzaga University School of Law. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  2. ^ a b "Gonzaga University | Best Law School | US News". Grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b c "History". Gonzaga University School of Law. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  4. ^ http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/prelaw_2014fall/#/30
  5. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/fall-2014-orientation/
  6. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/fall-2014-orientation/
  7. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/fall-2014-orientation/
  8. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/fall-2014-orientation/
  9. ^ Mike Stetz (Winter 2014). "Best law schools for the devout". PreLaw (National Jurist) 17 (3): 31. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  10. ^ Mike Stetz (March 2014). "Best Schools for Practical Training" 23 (6). The National Jurist. p. 24. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  11. ^ "Gonzaga University School of Law". Princetonreview.com. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  12. ^ http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/03/2015-us-news-.html
  13. ^ "U.S. News & World Report Survey Ranks GU Law School 58th in Nation, MBA 93rd". Gonzaga University News Service. 2011-03-16. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  14. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/about/
  15. ^ Jennifer Pohlman (September 2009). "Best Value Law Schools" 19 (1). National Jurist. p. 31. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  16. ^ Karen Dybis (Winter 2008). "Most innovative Law Schools" 13 (3). preLaw Magazine. p. 24. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  17. ^ "Gonzaga Law School Diversity Outreach Efforts Earn National Recognition". Gonzaga University News Service. 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  18. ^ "Gonzaga Law Posts State’s Best February Bar Pass Rate". Gonzaga University School of Law. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  19. ^ "Statistics of the Bar Examination". Gonzaga University School of Law. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  20. ^ a b "Section of Legal Education, Employment Summary Report". American Bar Association. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  22. ^ "Gonzaga University Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  23. ^ "Tuition & Fees Schedule". Gonzaga University School of Law. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Gonzaga University Profile, Cost". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/gonzagas-first-accelerated-class-session
  27. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/internationally-educated/
  28. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2014/news/internationally-educated/
  29. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Upendra D. Acharya
  30. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Scott J. Burnham
  31. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » David K. DeWolf
  32. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Jason A. Gillmer
  33. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Gerry Hess
  34. ^ http://www.law.gonzaga.edu/faculty/profiles/korn-jane/
  35. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Kevin H. Michels
  36. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Stephen L. Sepinuck
  37. ^ Gonzaga University School of Law » Debra Stephens
  38. ^ "The Honorable Thomas S. Foley (’73) – Gonzaga University, We Are Zags". Gonzaga University Video Center. 2011-11-02. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  39. ^ http://www.dioceseofspokane.org/communications/ir_2001/ir111501/rd111501.htm
  40. ^ "President Obama Nominates Rosanna M. Peterson to Serve on the District Court Bench" (Press release). The White House. October 13, 2009. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  41. ^ http://www.gonzaga.edu/Campus-Resources/Offices-and-Services-A-Z/Executive-Vice-President/default.asp
  42. ^ https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/blog/2005/news/dean-earl-martin/

External links[edit]