California Western School of Law

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California Western School of Law
Official logo for California Western School of Law.png
Motto What law school ought to be
Established 1924[1]
School type Private
Dean Niels B. Schaumann
Location San Diego, California, US
32°43′21″N 117°9′42″W / 32.72250°N 117.16167°W / 32.72250; -117.16167Coordinates: 32°43′21″N 117°9′42″W / 32.72250°N 117.16167°W / 32.72250; -117.16167
Enrollment 835[2]
Faculty 71[2]
USNWR ranking USWNR 2014 Rank Number 53 for "Best Law Schools, Part-time Law";[3] '"Rank Not Published" in USNWR's 2013 Top Law Schools [1][4]
Bar pass rate 72%[5] (February 2014)
ABA profile California Western Profile

California Western School of Law, founded in 1924, is a private, non-profit law school located in San Diego, California. It is popularly known as California Western or Cal Western and formerly California Western University. The school was 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] It is the oldest law school in San Diego.


California Western was originally chartered in 1924 by Leland Ghent Stanford as a private graduate institution called Balboa Law College, the first law school in San Diego. His brother, Dwight Stanford, served as one of the first deans. (Leland Ghent Stanford is not related to the founder of Stanford University, Leland Stanford, although he did attend Stanford, where he earned undergraduate and law degrees, and also M.A. and Ph.D degrees in Government Administration.) Balboa Law College expanded to include undergraduate and other graduate studies and changed its name to Balboa University. The law school at Balboa University was closed in 1946.

In 1952, Balboa University became affiliated with the Southern California Methodist Conference, changed its name to California Western University, and relocated to Point Loma. The law school was reopened in downtown. In 1960, the law school had 6 full-time faculty and 23 students. In that year, it re-located to Rohr Hall at Point Loma. It received approval from the American Bar Association in 1962.

In 1968, California Western University changed its name to United States International University (USIU). The law school retained the name California Western. USIU moved to Scripps Ranch. Point Loma Nazarene University currently occupies the Point Loma site. In 2001, USIU merged with California School of Professional Psychology to become Alliant International University.

In 1973, the law school relocated from its Point Loma location to the current downtown campus at 350 Cedar Street. In 1975, California Western ended its affiliation with USIU and became an independent secular law school. In 1980, the new trimester system was announced, allowing two entering classes in one academic year, reducing individual class size and allowing students to graduate in two years rather than the standard three.

In 1993, the law school opened a new administrative and campus center at 225 Cedar Street, housing faculty and administration offices, including student affairs and financial aid.

In January 2000, California Western opened a new Law Library building at 290 Cedar Street, which was dedicated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The current Dean, Niels B. Schaumann, joined the law school in 2012.[8]

In December 2012, National Jurist magazine ranked California Western within the top 40 law schools in the nation for diversity. At number 35, California Western was the highest-ranking law school in San Diego for student and faculty diversity; Fifty eight percent of entering students were women.[9][10]

Post-millennium, California Western has received consistent recognition as one of the nation's best law schools to prepare graduates for the bar examinations required to practice law.[11][12]


The law school teaches the J.D. curriculum plus dual-degree programs, specifically:

California Western and University of California, San Diego offer a joint Master's of Advanced Studies degree in Health Law.

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.

Programs and research centers[edit]

Its research centers include:

  • William J. McGill Center for Creative Problem Solving
  • Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy
  • National Center for Preventive Law
  • The California Innocence Project,[13] part of the national network of Innocence Projects, is a non-profit 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 1,000 claims of innocence from California inmates each year and has earned the release of five wrongfully convicted clients. The project is directed by Professors Justin Brooks and Jan Stiglitz.

Its clinical internship program routinely places students in the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court and U.S. Attorney's Offices, as well as numerous law firms in various sizes.


In 2007 California Western School of Law Professor Justin Brooks,[14] was named one of California's Top 100 Attorneys by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Brooks was one of only four law professors in California selected and one of only six lawyers – and the only criminal lawyer – from San Diego on the list.[citation needed]

Bar passage rates[edit]

According to the ABA, the bar pass rate is 78% for first time takers.[15] California Western ranks very high on the respected National Jurist legal publication's list of Best Schools for Bar Exam Preparation. California Western made it into the list's 2012 coveted top 20. (Rank: 20)[16][17]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at California Western School of Law for the 2014-2015 academic year is $69,928.[18]


According to California Western's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 31.3% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners.[19] California Western's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 51.2%, 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.[20]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates[21]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Employed - Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 281 Graduates

Student debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $157,748 (not including undergraduate debt), and 90% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[22]

Areas of concentration[edit]

California Western's areas of concentration provides education in the following areas:


Cal Western has two major publications, the California Western Law Review and the California Western International Law Journal, one of the oldest international law journals in the country.[23]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Best Part Time Law Programs". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b California Western School of Law Official ABA Data
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Best Law Schools: California Western School of Law". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  5. ^ CWSL Bar Passage Rate Comparison)
  6. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ AALS Member Schools
  8. ^ "CWSoL: Dean Schaumann". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  9. ^ "California Western Named Among Top 40 Law Schools in the Nation for Diversity". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  10. ^ "National Jurist - November 2012". National Jurist. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The Innocence Project of California". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  14. ^ "California Western Faculty: Justin Brooks". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "ABA Profile: California Western School of Law" (PDF). Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Best Law Schools for Bar Exam Preparation". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  17. ^ "National Jurist - February 2012". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Tuition and Fees". 
  19. ^ "ABA Disclosures". 
  20. ^ "California Western Profile". 
  21. ^ "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates". 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "California Western Law Review - International Law Journal". Retrieved December 14, 2012. 

External links[edit]