California Western School of Law

Coordinates: 32°43′21″N 117°9′42″W / 32.72250°N 117.16167°W / 32.72250; -117.16167
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California Western School of Law
School typePrivate law school
DeanSean Megan Scott[2]
LocationSan Diego, California, United States
32°43′21″N 117°9′42″W / 32.72250°N 117.16167°W / 32.72250; -117.16167
Faculty71 (25 tenured)[4]
USNWR ranking175th out of 196 schools (2024)[1] and 57th out of 70 schools for part time law (2024)[5]
Bar pass rate64.2% (First-time bar passage for Winter and Summer 2021) [1]
ABA profileCalifornia Western Profile

California Western School of Law is a private law school in San Diego, California. It is one of two successor organizations to California Western University, the other being Alliant International University. The school was founded in 1924, approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1962,[6] and became a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1967.[7]


California Western is San Diego's oldest law school and was originally chartered in 1924[8] by Leland Ghent Stanford as a private graduate institution called Balboa Law College.[9] Balboa Law College expanded to include undergraduate and other graduate studies and changed its name to Balboa University.[9]

In 1952, Balboa University became affiliated with the Southern California Methodist Conference and changed its name to California Western University, and the law school was relocated to downtown San Diego. In 1960 California Western received approval from the American Bar Association.[8] In 1973, the law school relocated within downtown San Diego to its current downtown campus at 350 Cedar Street.[8] In 1975, the school ended its affiliation with Cal Western's successor school, US International University, and became an independent secular law school.[8] In 1980, the new trimester system was announced, allowing two entering classes per academic year, reducing individual class size and allowing students the opportunity to graduate in two years rather than the standard three.[8]

In January 2000, California Western opened a new law library building at 290 Cedar Street, dedicated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.[8]

Sean M. Scott [10] was named the school's new president and dean in August 2020.[2]

California Western's December 2022 Announcement of its exit from USNWR's ranking system, brought the total number of US law school USNWR bailees to Nearly 10% of all US Law Schools. “While we work to broaden the school’s national visibility, we will do so based on our values and our merits,” Sean M. Scott, president and dean of California Western School of Law, said in a Dec. 20 announcement. California Western School of Law joined the stance with Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, University of California, Berkeley, Georgetown Law Center, Columbia Law School, Stanford Law School, University of Michigan, Northwestern Pritzker, Duke Law School, The University of California, Los Angeles, The University of California, Irvine, The University of California, Davis, The University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, New York University, University of Virginia, Campbell University, and The University of New Hampshire.[11]


The law school teaches the J.D. curriculum plus a dual-degree option, a J.D./Master of Business Administration with San Diego State University. California Western also offers the Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in Trial Advocacy with a Specialization in Federal Criminal Law as well as an M.C.L./LL.M. for foreign law students.

For 2022, California Western accepted 49.3% of applicants, and with Median LSAT score for all program entrants of 153 and a median undergraduate GPA for all program entrants of 3.36.[1]

Classroom course titles, beyond the first-year curriculum, offered 2021-2022 school year: 91. [1]

California Western is ranked number 68th for legal writing by USNWR.[12]

In 2008, California Western ranked first among the three ABA-approved law schools in the San Diego metropolitan area for both the February and July California bar examinations. Seventy-seven percent of California Western graduates taking the February 2008 California Bar Examination for the first time passed, placing the law school second among the 20 ABA-approved law schools in California. Eighty-five percent of California Western graduates taking the bar exam for the first time in July 2008 passed, placing the law school eighth in the state.[13] Since 2008, the law school's California bar examination first-time-taker passage rates have generally trended downward.[14]

Programs and research centers[edit]

Research centers include:

  • The California Innocence Project,[15] part of the national network of innocence projects, is a nonprofit clinical program based at California Western in which law professors and students work to free wrongly convicted prisoners in California. The law students assist in the investigation of cases where there is strong evidence of innocence, write briefs in those cases, and advocate in all appropriate forums for the release of the project's clients. Founded in 1999, the California Innocence Project reviews more than 2,000 claims of innocence from California inmates each year.[16] The project was founded by Professors Justin Brooks and Jan Stiglitz.[17]
  • William J. McGill Center for Creative Problem Solving
  • Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy
  • National Center for Preventive Law


The law school has 25 tenured faculty members, three faculty members on the tenure track and six legal skills professors. From 2010 to 2014, 28 tenured and tenure-track faculty members published 18 books, 15 book chapters, 55 law review articles and 75 other scholarly publications. Tenure-track or tenured faculty who were members of the faculty in the last seven years wrote 70 additional publications.[citation needed]

The law school created six endowed professorships to support faculty members in their research and scholarship. California Western has also been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past five years.[18]

Student debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, annual tuition and fees: full-time $58,350 and part-time $43,550[19]

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e "California Western School of Law".
  2. ^ a b "Two African American Women Appointed to Dean Positions at Law Schools in the United States". 13 January 2020.
  3. ^ "California Western School of Law Official ABA Data" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-05-10. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
  4. ^ "California Western School of Law Official ABA Data" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  5. ^ "2023-2024 Best Part-time Law Programs".
  6. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  7. ^ "AALS Member Schools". Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "California Western Mission and History". California Western School of law. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Alliant International University's History". Alliant International University. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  10. ^ "CWSoL: Dean Schaumann". Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "With California Western Law's Announcement, Nearly 10% of Law Schools Have Bailed on US News Rankings".
  12. ^ "Best Legal Writing Programs".
  13. ^ "California Western Achieves High Bar Passage Rates for February and July Bar Exams". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2023-08-29.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ "Bar Pass Rate Comparison".
  15. ^ "California Innocence Project". Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  16. ^ "About CIP: What is the California Innocence Project?". California Innocence Project. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  17. ^ "Our Staff: Meet the Team". California Innocence Project. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  18. ^ "San Diego Source - News - San Diego - Law". San Diego Source. May 3, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  19. ^ "California Western School of Law Graduate Programs".

External links[edit]