Whittier Law School

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Whittier Law School
Motto In Service of Justice and Enterprise
Parent school Whittier College
Established 1966
School type Private
Dean Penelope Bryan
Location Costa Mesa, CA, US
Enrollment 642 (Full- and part-time)[1]
Faculty 49[1]
USNWR ranking Rank not published[1]
Bar pass rate 66% (ABA profile)
Website www.whittier.edu
ABA profile LSAC link: Whittier Law School

Whittier Law School is a law school in Costa Mesa, California. Founded in 1966, it is a fully accredited ABA law school in Orange County, California. A private university, it is part of Whittier College.


The Law School was originally founded as the Beverly College of Law in 1966,[2] and located in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles’s Westside. It was a private, nonprofit educational institution intended to meet the growing need for a law school in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

In 1974, the Whittier College Board of Trustees voted to merge the Beverly College of Law into Whittier College. In 1975, the Law School became known as the Whittier College School of Law and later as Whittier Law School.In response to a significant gift to the Law School, the Hancock Park building was dedicated as the Ross McCollum Law Center during a ceremony at which Supreme Court Associate Justice Byron R. White presented the major address.

During the 1990s, the Law School, along with leaders at Whittier College, decided to relocate the campus to Orange County in order to satisfy space needs and in response to requests by the community for an ABA law school in Orange County.[3] In 1996, the College acquired the present 14-acre campus in Costa Mesa, remodeled the buildings on the site to accommodate the needs of the Law School, and moved the faculty and students over a period of three years.[3] In 1997, the move was completed and Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the major address at the opening ceremony.[3]


Whittier Law School offers both full and part-time day and evening J.D. programs. The full-time program takes three years to complete, while the part-time program takes four years to complete. Whittier also offers an LL.M. program.[4]


In 1978, the American Bar Association (ABA) granted Whittier Law School provisional accreditation.[5] In 1985, Whittier Law School was fully accredited by the ABA[6] and in 1987 it became a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).[7]

On August 9, 2005, the ABA, concerned about Whittier Law School's low bar passage rates, placed the law school's accreditation on probationary status for two years. On August 10, 2007, the ABA extended the probation until February 15, 2009. Under the ABA's rules, the law school remained fully accredited during the probation period, and all students who entered and graduated during this period are deemed to have graduated from an ABA accredited law school.[8]

During probation, the ABA conducted several inspections designed to measure the school's efforts to comply with bar passage standards. The law school has taken several steps aimed at preparing its students for the bar examination, including implementing an early bar preparation program; requiring all students to take two graded, semester-long courses on the essay and performance test sections of the bar examination; and offering a summer-long assistance program designed to operate in conjunction with commercial bar preparation courses. As a result, Dean Cogan stated:

Because our bar passage rates in 2003-07, the pertinent five-year period under the new rule, are well in compliance, we have requested to be removed from probation. The ABA Accreditation Committee will consider that request on April 17–19 [2008], and the ABA Council will review the Accreditation Committee’s recommendation on June 6–8 [2008]. I expect that after those meetings, the ABA will remove the Law School’s probationary status.[9]

On April 17, 2008, the ABA Accreditation Committee recommended to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar that Whittier Law School be removed from probation.[10] Dean Cogan reported:

The Law School requested this action on February 14, 2008, because the bar passage rates of our graduates for the five-year period, 2003-07, show compliance with the ABA bar passage rule, Interpretation 301-6. We fully expect that the Council will accept the Committee’s recommendation at its meeting on June 6 and remove the Law School from its probationary status.

On June 7, 2008, the ABA officially removed Whittier Law School from its probationary status.[11] According to Dean Cogan:

On Saturday, June 7, 2008, the Council of the ABA Section on Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar accepted its Accreditation Committee's finding that the Law School is in full compliance with Section 301(a) of the Standards for Approval of Law Schools and Interpretation 301-6(A)(1)(b). In addition, the Council accepted the Committee's conclusion that the Law School satisfied all conditions of its probation.

According to the ABA Section on Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar, Section 301-6(a)(1)(b) states that graduating law students within the last five calendar years must pass a state bar examination at a minimum of 75% in at least three of the five calendar years.[12]


Whittier has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as an ethnically diverse law school.[13] The law school's academic ranking is listed as "not published" by the U.S. News and World Report.[14] In 2010, The Princeton Review featured Whittier Law School in its 2011 Edition of "The 172 Best Law Schools", highlighting the school's emphasis on small class sizes, an active study body, and practical externship opportunities in intellectual property, criminal, family, business law.[15]

On March 22, 2012 U.S. News & World Report included Whittier Law School in its list of "10 Law Schools That Lead to the Most Debt.".[16] According to the same article, the average indebtedness of Whittier Law School graduates is $138,961.

Whitter was listed as "B-" in the January 2011 "Best Public Interest Law Schools" listing by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.[17]

Admission statistics[edit]

For Fall 2009:

  • Number of Applications: 1,520
  • Number of Students Enrolled: 140
  • Median Range of LSAT: 151-155
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.10[18]


Whittier Law School has two scholarly publications: the Whittier Law Review[19] and the Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy,[20] and one student run newspaper, the Zealous Advocate.[21]

According to a ranking conducted by the Washington & Lee Law School, the Whittier Law Review is ranked 109th out of 192 law reviews evaluated.[22] According to a ranking of law reviews on the basis of the prominence of the lead article authors, conducted in 2007 by two professors at the Shepard Broad Law Center, the Whittier Law Review was ranked 121st out of 171 law reviews evaluated.[23] The Law Review is a student-run organization publishing a collection of articles of legal scholarship four times annually. The Law Review is currently in its twenty-ninth year of publication.[24]


Whittier Law School has centers in Children’s Rights, Intellectual Property Law, and International and Comparative Law. These centers host fellows, offer externships, and sponsor symposia and workshops. The law school also offers concentrations in Criminal Law and Business Law for students who wish to take additional, specialized courses in those areas.

As with many American law schools, Whittier Law School offers students the opportunity to study abroad. As of 2010, the law school offered summer programs in China, France, Israel, Spain, and Mexico.[25]

Bar passage rates[edit]

In February 2012 Whittier Law School recorded a First Time Pass rate of 70.2%. [26]

Whittier Law School recorded the following bar exam First Time Passage Rates --

Whittier Law All CA ABA Accredited
July 2012[27] 70% 67.3%
July 2011[28] 56% 76%
July 2010[29] 53% 75%
July 2009[30] 62% 71%

Average Indebtedness & Post-Graduation Employment[edit]

Student Debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $154,267 (not including undergraduate debt), and 92% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[31] This information should be considered in light of the fact that only 34.1% of 2012 graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers) within 9 months after graduation.[32]

Employment Outcomes[edit]

According to the law professor blog, The Faculty Lounge, based on 2012 ABA data, only 34.1% of graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers), 9 months after graduation, ranking 187th out of 197 law schools.[33]

According to the American Bar Association, nine months after graduation, 17% of graduates from the class of 2011 worked in full-time long-term jobs requiring bar passage, 23% worked temporary, part-time, or full-time in jobs requiring bar passage, 47% held positions where a J.D. was preferred or required, and 50% were unemployed and looking for work.[34] No 2011 graduates reported employment in either a state or federal clerkship. [35]

Whittier Law School's Career Services Center assists students in obtaining post-graduate employment. According to a National Association for Law Placement survey, 91.5% of students who graduated and responded to the survey in May 2006 managed to secure employment by February 2007.[citation needed] Of those students, about 49% were employed by private law firms, about 30% were employed in "business and industry," about 9% were employed by government agencies, about 8% were employed by public interest organizations, and less than 1% were employed as law clerks. Median salaries ranged from $59,000 per year for public sector jobs to $80,000 per year for "business and industry" jobs.[36]

Based on a 2001-2007 6 year average, 91.2% of Whittier Law graduates were employed 9 months after graduation.[37]

Noted people[edit]


  • Raphael Lapin, Adjunct Professor, author, and founder of Lapin Negotiation Strategies
  • I. Nelson Rose, Full Professor with Tenure, author of Gambling and the Law



Law firm partners[edit]

Other appointments and vocations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "U.S. News & World Report, "Best Law Schools: Whittier College"". Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  2. ^ WLS Foundation[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Whittier Law School Site Change
  4. ^ Whittier Law School J.D. Program[dead link]
  5. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ WLS Accreditation[dead link]
  7. ^ AALS Member Schools
  8. ^ Whittier Law School Accreditation[dead link]
  9. ^ Whittier Law School News and Announcements[dead link]
  10. ^ Dean's Letter to Community[dead link]
  11. ^ Dean's Letter to Community
  12. ^ ABA Accreditation Standards
  13. ^ USNWR Law School Rankings
  14. ^ USNWR Law School Rankings
  15. ^ Whittier Law School, quoting Princeton Review, Best 172 Law Schools: 2011 Edition quotes
  16. ^ http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/the-short-list-grad-school/articles/2012/03/22/10-law-schools-that-lead-to-the-most-debt
  17. ^ Weyenberg, Michelle (January 2011). "Best Law Schools for Public Interest". The National Jurist (San Diego, California: Cypress Magazines) 20 (4): 24–28 
  18. ^ LSAC
  19. ^ Whittier Law Review Official Webpage
  20. ^ Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy Official Webpage
  21. ^ Zealous Advocate Online Student Publication
  22. ^ Washington & Lee Law School Law Journals Rankings
  23. ^ Ranking Law Reviewing by Author Prominence - Ten Years Later
  24. ^ Whittier Law Review
  25. ^ Summer Abroad Programs
  26. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Over-70-of-Whittier-Law-School-Graduates-Pass-4077035.php
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ [2]
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ http://admissions.calbar.ca.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ygWhGoUlLWk%3d&tabid=2269]
  31. ^ http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/grad-debt-rankings
  32. ^ http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/
  33. ^ Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, March 30, 2013. Retrieved on February 24, 2014, http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/03/-full-rankings-bar-admission-required-full-time-long-term.html. -- For the latest Employment Summary Reports from the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education, see http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/
  34. ^ [4]
  35. ^ [5]
  36. ^ Whittier Law School NALP Employment Report[dead link]
  37. ^ "Internet Legal Research Group: Whittier Law School, 2009 profile". Retrieved April 13, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Carol Ann Abrams dies, Producer, author was mother of J.J. Abrams". Variety Magazine. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-06. 
  39. ^ SBA Records

External links[edit]

33°41′37″N 117°55′03″W / 33.69361°N 117.91750°W / 33.69361; -117.91750Coordinates: 33°41′37″N 117°55′03″W / 33.69361°N 117.91750°W / 33.69361; -117.91750