Trinity Law School

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Coordinates: 33°45′56″N 117°51′07″W / 33.76556°N 117.85194°W / 33.76556; -117.85194

Trinity Law School
TLS Logo.png
Parent school Trinity International University
Established 1980
School type Private
(Evangelical Free Church of America)
Dean Myron Steeves[1]
Enrollment Approximately 250 (January 2014)
Faculty 4 full-time; 34 adjunct
Bar pass rate 26% (5/19) (July 2012 1st time takers)[2]
Website Trinity Law School

Trinity Law School is a private, non-profit law school located in Santa Ana, California, United States.

Background and origins[edit]

Trinity Law School, as it is now known, was founded in 1980 as the Simon Greenleaf School of Law and was originally located in Anaheim, California.[3] It was named in honor of the Nineteenth century Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf who was a major authority on the laws of evidence and also wrote The Testimony of the Evangelists, which was a work of Christian apologetics concerning the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.[citation needed]

The Simon Greenleaf School of Law was the brain-child of John Warwick Montgomery.[citation needed] Montgomery rose to prominence in the 1960s as a confessional Lutheran theologian and as a Christian apologist.[citation needed] He held the chair of Professor of Church History at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois (1964–74).[citation needed] A founding board of trustees collaborated with Montgomery to establish in 1980 the Simon Greenleaf School of Law.[citation needed]

It commenced operations by offering evening classes in a four-year undergraduate course in legal studies that led to the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, and a one-and-a-half year post-graduate course in Christian Apologetics that led to the conferral of a Master of Arts degree. Today, only the J.D. program is offered.[citation needed]

The founding faculty members, as listed in the inaugural edition of the school's journal The Simon Greenleaf Law Review, in the law program included Ronald S. Ayers, Jack D. Brewer, Beatrice S. Donoghue, Laurence B. Donoghue, Jack W. Golden, Roy W. Hibberd, David L. Llewellyn, John T. Moen, David S. Prescott, Vincent Schmieder and Donald E. Thomas. These faculty members were Christian lawyers who worked in private practices in Southern California.[citation needed]

In 1997, the law school became a part of Trinity International University (TIU), an evangelical Christian institution of higher education headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, and operated by the Evangelical Free Church of America.[3]

Accreditation and curricula[edit]

Trinity Law School is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California.[4] It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association accreditation when it came under TIU's umbrella[5] At present, Trinity Law School is not approved by the American Bar Association (ABA),[6] but it has a long-term goal of obtaining ABA approval.

The school offers the Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree.

Rankings and awards[edit]

In January 2014, Trinity Law School ranked second on The National Jurist's list of "Most Devout Christian Law Schools," among Liberty University, Regent University, Pepperdine University, and Baylor University.[7][8]

In March 2014, Trinity Law School's Moot Court team placed first in the Frederick Douglass National Moot Court Competition, held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9] Trinity Law School placed ahead of Georgetown University Law Center, two teams from Columbia Law School, and the University of Texas School of Law. In total, 17 schools competed.

Prior to earning that title, they placed second in the Western Regional Championship, held in January 2014 in Sacramento, California, which was the qualifier for the final in Wisconsin. USC Gould School of Law and University of San Diego School of Law were among the schools they defeated.[9]

Bar pass rate[edit]

In July 2012, the pass rate for first-time test takers of the California Bar Examination is 26%.[10]


Trinity Law School is the publisher of Journal of Christian Legal Thought, a publication of Christian Legal Society as of Fall 2013.[11] It also publishes Trinity Law Review, which is operated by invited students.[12]


Notable founding members of the faculty teaching in the defunct Master of Arts program included Harold Lindsell, Walter Martin, Josh McDowell, and Rod Rosenbladt.

During the 1980s a variety of distinguished Christian and non-Christian lecturers were invited to speak at the school. The school's prospectus for 1986 listed some of these guest lecturers as including Gleason Archer, Norman Geisler, Armand Nicholi, Francis Schaeffer and R. C. Sproul.

The first Dean of the law school during the transition from Simon Greenleaf University to Trinity International University was Shannon "Verleur" Spann (a 1990s graduate of Simon Greenleaf Law School), whose husband, Johnny Micheal Spann (a CIA paramilitary operations officer), was the first American killed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.[13][14][15]


  1. ^ "Faculty Profile: Myron Steeves". Trinity Law School. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "General Statistics Report: July 2012 California Bar Examination" (PDF). California State Bar. December 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "About Trinity Law School". Trinity Law School. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Law Schools in California Approved by the America Bar Association (ABA)". State Bar of California, The. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "HLCNCA Accreditation Data". Higher Learning Commission, The. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved 1 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Top Law Schools for Devout Christians". Higher Learning Commission, The. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Stetz, Mike (January 2014). "Best law schools for the devout". Higher Learning Commission, The. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ State Bar of California Bar Examination Statistics
  11. ^ Journal of Christian Legal Thought Vol. 3 No. 2 Fall 2013
  12. ^ Trinity Law Review
  13. ^ TIU Assumes Control of SGU
  14. ^ Widow of CIA officer shows her resolve. Orange County Register, December 13, 2001. Accessed May 25, 2015.
  15. ^ If Anything Happens to Me. Parade Magazine, August 18, 2002.

External links[edit]