UC Berkeley School of Law

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University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
UC Berkeley School of Law logo.svg
Motto Fiat lux (Latin)
Parent school University of California, Berkeley
Established 1894[1]
School type Public
Parent endowment $3.33 billion (2013)[2]
Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Location Berkeley, California, U.S.
Enrollment 916[1]
Faculty 119 (Full- and part-time)[1]
USNWR ranking 12[1]
Bar pass rate 92% (ABA profile)
Website law.berkeley.edu

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, commonly referred to as Berkeley Law and Boalt Hall, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley Law is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the world.[3] The law school has produced leaders in law, government, and society, including Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, Secretary of State of the United States Dean Rusk, Attorney General of the United States Edwin Meese, United States Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Federal Reserve G. William Miller, Solicitor General of the United States Theodore Olson, and lead litigator of the Korematsu v. United States civil rights case, Dale Minami.


The Department of Jurisprudence was founded at Berkeley in 1894. In 1912, the department was renamed the School of Jurisprudence, it was again renamed as the School of Law in 1950.

The School was originally located in the center of the main UC Berkeley campus in the Boalt Memorial Hall of Law,[4] which was built in 1911 with funds largely from Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt donated in memory of her late husband, John Henry Boalt, an attorney who had resided in Oakland, California until his death in 1901. In 1951, the School moved to its current location in the new Boalt Hall, at the southeast corner of the campus, and the old Boalt Hall was renamed Durant Hall.

In April 2008, the law school rebranded itself at the cost of $25,000,[5] through a change of name from "Boalt Hall" to "Berkeley Law" to tie the law school's name more closely with the campus upon which it resides. The administration hopes that this will improve the law school's name recognition since people already know of UC Berkeley and that it has a law school but are often confused by the use of 'Boalt Hall'.[6][7]


Boalt Hall's law library was expanded in 1996 with the North Addition, pictured above.

Boalt Hall has approximately 850 J.D. students, 200 students in the LL.M. and J.S.D. programs, and 45 students in the Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. The School also features specialized curricular programs in Business, Law and Economics, Comparative Legal Studies, Environmental Law, International Legal Studies, Law and Technology, and Social Justice.

The JD program's admissions process is highly selective. Berkeley Law is known to value high undergraduate GPAs. Consequently, Berkeley has the 9th highest 75th percentile GPA. According to U.S. News and World Report, Berkeley has the 12th lowest acceptance rate among U.S. law schools, with about 25% of applicants admitted. For the class entering in the fall of 2016, 1,328 out of 5,336 applicants (24.9%) were offered admission, with 301 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2016 entering class were 163 and 169, respectively, with a median of 166. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.65 and 3.89, respectively, with a median of 3.79.[8]

Boalt's grading system for the JD program is unusual among law schools. Students are graded on a High Honors (HH), Honors (H), and Pass (P) scale. Approximately 60% of the students in each class receive a grade of Pass, 30% receive a grade of Honors, and the highest 10% receive a grade of High Honors; lower grades of Substandard Pass (or Pass Conditional, abbreviated PC) and No Credit (NC) may be awarded at the discretion of professors. The top student in each class or section receives the Jurisprudence Award, while the second-place student receives the Prosser Prize.

For a typical class in the JD program, the average age of admitted students is 24 years old, over a range of ages from 20 to 48 years old. Berkeley Law's tuition has increased in recent years. Currently, tuition and fees are $48,703 per year (in-state) and $52,654 per year (out-of-state). Most out-of-state students may claim in-state status in their second year of study.[9]

The faculty of Berkeley Law also provide academic direction and the bulk of the instruction for the undergraduate program in Legal Studies, which is organized as a major in Letters and Science. The Legal Studies program is not intended as a pre-law program, but rather as a liberal arts program "that can encourage sustained reflection on fundamental values." [10]

Berkeley Law has a chapter of the Order of the Coif, a national law school honorary society founded for the purposes of encouraging legal scholarship and advancing the ethical standards of the legal profession.[11]

It is an American Bar Association approved law school since 1923.[12] It joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1912.[13]

Boalt Hall offers combined degree programs with other schools at the University of California, as well as MA degrees from Tufts University and Harvard University.[14]


Currently, US News & World Report has ranked Berkeley Law the 12th best law school in the United States.[15]

According to Brian Leiter's Law School rankings, Boalt ranks 7th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty.[16] In terms of student numerical quality, Boalt ranks 14th in the nation.[17]

According to The Daily Journal, 15 of the top 100 lawyers in California are Boalt alumni. Law and Politics' Super Lawyers magazine ranks Berkeley as #9 in the country, just above Yale Law based on the amount of Super Lawyers it produces.[18] 890 alumni are in their list of the top 5% of peer rated attorneys for 2009.

It is listed as "A" (#5) in the January 2011 "Best Public Interest Law Schools" ratings by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.[19]

In 2017, US News and World Report ranked Berkeley 12th in their overall law school rankings of all law schools in the U.S.[20] Berkeley is particularly renowned for Environmental Law, including land use, sustainable development, natural resources, energy, and real estate law. US News and World Report ranked Berkeley as the 4th best law school in the U.S. for Environmental Law, and it is the only top ten law school to also be in the top ten for Environmental Law.[21] They also ranked the school 9th in the nation for International Law programs,[22] and first in the nation for Intellectual Property Law.[23]

According to the 2016 QS World Rankings for law school, UC Berkeley is ranked as the fourth-best law school in U.S and ninth in the world.[24]

Bar passage rates[edit]

Most recently, Berkeley Law's bar passage rank was the third best in California at 84 percent. [25]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

According to Berkeley's official ABA-required disclosures, 96% of the Class of 2014 obtained full-time, long-term, bar admission-required employment nine months after graduation.[26] Boalt Hall's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 7.6%, 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.[27]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Berkeley Law for the 2016-2017 academic year is $79,228.50 for California residents and $83,179.50 for non-residents.[28] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $254,955 for residents and $268,476 for non-residents.[29]

Centers at Berkeley Law[edit]

A view of San Francisco and the Bay from Boalt Hall.
  • Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (est. 2006)
  • Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (est. 1996)
  • Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy (est. 2004)
  • California Constitution Center – Berkeley Law
  • Center for Clinical Education (est. 1998)
  • Center for Law, Energy & the Environment
  • Center for the Study of Law and Society (est. 1961)
  • Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity
  • Death Penalty Clinic (est. 2001)
  • Institute for Global Challenges and the Law
  • Institute for Legal Research (formerly the Earl Warren Legal Institute) (est. 1963)
  • International Human Rights Law Clinic (est. 1998)
  • Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs (est. 2000)
  • Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance (est. 1994)
  • Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic (est. 2000)
  • Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice (est. 1999)

Law journals at Berkeley Law[edit]

Noted people[edit]


(Listed by year of graduation)


Boalt Hall in popular culture[edit]

  • Sandy Cohen, a character on the popular television series The O.C., is a lawyer and a Boalt Hall alumnus. "The O.C. at Boalt" is a student group that, in addition to screening episodes of The O.C. during the lunch period, offers the Sandy Cohen Fellowship, a summer grant for students who plan to work as public defenders (on The O.C., Sandy Cohen worked as a public defender while living in Orange County). In recent years, "The O.C. at Boalt" has also managed to bring Peter Gallagher, the actor who plays Sandy Cohen, to Boalt to speak on an annual basis.
  • Matthew Perry played a Republican graduate of Boalt Hall on multiple episodes of The West Wing.
  • Kelly Rutherford played lawyer Samantha 'Sonny' Liston, a graduate of Boalt Hall, on E-Ring.
  • Joanie Caucus, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, attended Boalt Hall.
  • In Catch Me if You Can, Martin Sheen plays Roger Strong, the District Attorney of New Orleans and a Boalt Hall alumnus.
  • Mike Daly, protagonist of the bestselling Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels by Sheldon Siegel, is a Boalt Hall graduate and, together with his wife, taught there for about a year.
  • In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, a copy of the California Law Review is featured prominently on a table in the senior partner's office.
  • Judy Carrier, a major continuing character in Lisa Scottoline's novels about Rosato & Assoc – an all-female law firm in Philadelphia, received her degree froam Boalt Hall and is a very bright legal scholar.
  • Pete Harrison, played by Bradley Whitford, was the leading role in the hit show "Trophy Wife", and was a Berkeley Law graduate. He dons a Berkeley Law sweatshirt in the first season.


  1. ^ a b c d "U.S. News & World Report, Best Law Schools: University of California – Berkeley". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Annual Endowment Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013; p.4" (PDF). Chief Investment Officer of the Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  3. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
  4. ^ http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/archives_exhibits/online_exhibits/romapacifica/partv_jgeda309.html
  5. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/UC-Berkeley-dropping-Boalt-Hall-from-law-school-s-2519014.php
  6. ^ Tanya Schevitz, UC Berkeley dropping Boalt Hall from law school's official name, San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 2007.
  7. ^ Berkeley Law/ Boalt Hall / Naming Convention, Christopher Edley, Jr., Dean of Berkeley Law
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ https://www.law.berkeley.edu/admissions/jd/financial-aid/fees-cost-of-attendance/
  10. ^ Order of the Coif member schools
  11. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  12. ^ AALS Member Schools
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
  15. ^ "Top 35 Law Faculties Based on Scholarly Impact, 2007". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  16. ^ "Brian Leiter's Law Schools Ranked by Student (Numerical) Quality, 2007". Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  17. ^ Top Law Schools: 2010 Super Lawyers U.S. Law School Rankings. Superlawyers.com. Retrieved on 2014-06-17.
  18. ^ Weyenberg, Michelle (January 2011), "Best Law Schools for Public Interest", The National Jurist, San Diego, California: Cypress Magazines, 20 (4): 24–28 
  19. ^ "Best Law Schools". US News and World Report. March 2017. 
  20. ^ "Best Law Schools Environmental Law". US News and World Report. March 2017. 
  21. ^ "Best Law Schools International Law". US News and World Report. March 2017. 
  22. ^ "Best Law Schools Intellectual Property". US News and World Report. March 2017. 
  23. ^ "Top Law Schools in 2016". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 25 August 2016. 
  24. ^ http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/12/july-2016-california-bar-exam-resultsnine-law-schools-including-uc-hastings-are-at-risk-of-failing-a.html
  25. ^ "Employment Statistics". 
  26. ^ "University of California-Berkeley Profile". 
  27. ^ "Fees and Cost of Attendance". 
  28. ^ "LST Estimated Costs". 
  29. ^ Gordon, Walter; et al. (1976–1979). "An Interview With Walter Gordon". Athlete, Officer in Law Enforcement and Administration, Governor of the Virgin Islands: oral history transcript / Walter Gordon (Interview). 1–2. Berkeley, California: Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  30. ^ Grimes, William. "Stephen Barnett, a Leading Legal Scholar, Dies at 73", The New York Times, October 21, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2009.
  31. ^ Bishop, Katherine. "Sweet Victory for Feminist Pioneer at Law School." The New York Times, 3 April 1992, sec. A, p. 19
  32. ^ Howard Mintz, Goodwin Liu Confirmed to California Supreme Court, San Jose Mercury News (Sept. 1, 2011, 8:41 AM), http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_18798616
  33. ^ "Biography of Professor Sho Sato". UC Berkeley School of Law. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  34. ^ "Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001" (PDF). US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  35. ^ "October 23, 2001 OLC Opinion Addressing the Domestic Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities" (PDF). US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2009-03-02. ]
  36. ^ "Indian-origin scholar Sujit Choudhry becomes dean of top US law school". 2 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°52′11″N 122°15′12″W / 37.86986°N 122.25339°W / 37.86986; -122.25339