Golden Gate University School of Law

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Golden Gate University School of Law
Golden Gate University Seal.jpg
Parent school Golden Gate University
Established October 1, 1901[1]
School type Private non-profit
Parent endowment $59.9 million[2]
Dean Rachel A. Van Cleave[3]
Location San Francisco, California, US
Enrollment 732 (Full- and part-time)[4]
Faculty 110 (Full- and part-time)[4]
USNWR ranking Not published[4]
Bar pass rate 56% (ABA profile)[5]
ABA profile Golden Gate University School of Law

Golden Gate University School of Law (informally referred to as GGU School of Law, GGU Law and Golden Gate Law) is one of the professional graduate schools of Golden Gate University. Located in downtown San Francisco, California, GGU is a California non-profit corporation and is fully accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). In 2011, the National Jurist ranked the law school's public interest program among the top 20 in the United States.[6] In 2013, the same publication ranked Golden Gate University School of Law among the 20 US law schools with the highest average law school debt among its 2011 graduates.[7] Golden Gate Law was named by National Jurist magazine among the top 20 U.S. law schools for practical, hands-on training in 2014.[8]


GGU Campus

GGU Law was founded in the autumn of 1901 as the YMCA Evening Law School, a component of the San Francisco Central YMCA Evening College. Classes were held in the YMCA's building at Mason and Ellis Streets in the Tenderloin, which was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Like other YMCA Law Schools across the nation, it was established to provide people who worked full-time the opportunity to attend law school at night. The first graduating class in June 1905 had four students (all men).[9] After the earthquake, the school was conducted out of tents, and later leased space at 1220 Geary St. (now Geary Boulevard) near Franklin Street in the Western Addition neighborhood.[10] For the purpose of conferring the LL.B degree under authority of law the school was incorporated as the Young Men's Christian Association Law College on June 1, 1910.[11][12][13] With the rest of the YMCA the law college moved to its purpose-built home at 220 Golden Gate Ave, near Leavenworth Street, again in the Tenderloin in November 1910. The Law College's graduates enjoyed the diploma privilege from 1915 to its abolition in 1917.[14]

The YMCA Golden Gate School of Law along with the rest of the local "Y"'s educational programs was formally incorporated separately from the San Francisco Central YMCA in April 1923, as Golden Gate College. The school left the YMCA's Golden Gate Ave. quarters and moved to its present location, a 1924 warehouse known as the "Allyne Building" at 536 Mission Street, near 1st Street in the South of Market district in December 1964 with the rest of the college moving there in June 1968.[15] The law school added a full-time three-year day program in September 1966.[16] Following the national trend, the school replaced the Bachelor of Laws with the Doctor of Jurisprudence on December 1, 1967 with effect from Spring 1968[17]

The School of Law held provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association longer than any other in history—from August 30, 1956 until July 6, 1971, at which time full approval was granted.[18][19][20]

The college elevated to university status and became Golden Gate University in 1972, with Golden Gate University School of Law as its law school.

About the law school[edit]

Lecture Hall

Golden Gate University School of Law has a history of developing programs to meet the demands of law students, the community, and the legal profession. The Public Interest Scholars Program encourages students to use their legal education to serve their communities. In addition, the law school's on-site Women's Employment Rights Clinic and Environmental Law & Justice Clinic provide opportunities for students to work with real clients who may not otherwise have access to legal counsel.

In 1978, the law school developed a graduate legal program in taxation and in the 1990s graduate programs in environmental law, an International Legal Studies Program, and U.S. legal studies. In 1998, the school continued its tradition of providing a practical legal education by establishing the Honors Lawyering Program through which students participate in two full-time, semester-long legal apprenticeships.

It was listed with a "B+" in the March 2011 "Diversity Honor Roll" by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.[21]

Golden Gate University School of Law is a regular victor at the San Francisco Trial Lawyer Association's Mock Trial Competition, which regularly includes Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Hastings, Santa Clara, and USF. In 2014, GGU Law won the SFTLA Mock Trial Competition for the third year in a row.[22][23]


Mock Trial Room

The school offers a first degree in law (J.D.) and first graduate degrees in law (L.L.M., and doctoral S.J.D.) programs in intellectual property, environmental law, taxation, U.S. legal studies and international law.

Certificates of specialization are available in:

Students also may earn combined degrees: J.D./M.B.A. with Golden Gate University's Ageno School of Business or J.D./Ph.D. with Palo Alto University.

The school has been accredited by the American Bar Association since August 1956.[19] Additionally it has been accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California since 1940. It is also a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).[24] Graduates qualify to take the bar exam in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. On an institution-wide basis, Golden Gate University has been fully accredited on an institution-wide basis by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) since 1959. (It had been accredited by what is now the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools from 1950.)

Bar passage rates[edit]

Golden Gate reports a 56% pass rate for graduates taking the California Bar on their first try.[25]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) for continuing students at Golden Gate University School of Law for the 2013-2014 academic year was $66,602.[26] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $267,203.[27] In the 2013-2014 academic year, GGU Law had 184 graduates, 161 of whom graduated with debt. Of those graduating with debt, the average amount borrowed was $146,288.[28]

Post-graduation employment and indebtedness[edit]

Employment outcomes[edit]

According to Golden Gate University School of Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 22.4% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners.[29] Golden Gate's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 55.3%, 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.[30]

According to the American Bar Association employment summary report for 2012 39.9% of graduates were employed in a bar passage required job. Also according to the American Bar Association employment summary report for 2012 20.7% of graduates were unemployed and seeking.[31]

According to the law professor blog, The Faculty Lounge, based on 2012 ABA data, 21.5% of graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers), 9 months after graduation, ranking 197th out of 197 law schools.[32]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates [33]
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 228 Graduates

Student debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $144,269 (not including undergraduate debt), and 96% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[34][35]


  • Golden Gate University Law Review is published three times a year, and includes the Ninth Circuit Survey, the only law review journal dedicated solely to addressing cases decided by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Golden Gate University School of Law Environmental Law Journal is published twice during the academic year.
  • Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law published annually following the Annual Fulbright Symposium on International Legal Problems, by the Sompong Sucharitkul Center for Advanced International Legal Studies.

Law library[edit]

Golden Gate University's Law Library houses a collection of more than 373,000 volumes, microforms and electronic resources. The holdings include comprehensive series of case law, statutes, digests, encyclopedias, periodicals, and treatises dealing with American law, a tax collection, microforms collection, a government documents collection, and a body of work in environmental law, law and literature, and international law.

Notable events[edit]

  • Golden Gate University School of Law was northern California's first evening law school.
  • Golden Gate University School of Law was northern California's third law school.
  • In 1973, Judith McKelvey was appointed Dean; she was the second woman in the United States to be named dean of a law school.
  • In 2004, Frederic White was appointed Dean; he was the first African-American dean of an ABA-accredited Law School in California.

Scholarship controversy[edit]

In April 2011, the New York Times ran an article on law school scholarships that included interviews with Golden Gate students and alumni who claimed the school had baited them into enrolling by awarding them merit scholarships. Such a scholarship would continue as long as its recipient maintained a GPA of at least 3.0. The article claims that the school did not inform recipients that the school's mandatory first-year curve made it statistically impossible for all of them to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.[36]

In response, the school's dean, Drucilla Stender Ramey, said, "Of course some students are disappointed. I thought I'd be 5-foot-10, and I'm 4-11."[36] She declined to say how many students would lose their scholarships in 2011, suggesting that doing so would violate the privacy rights of the students.[36]

Notable people[edit]




  1. ^ "S.F. Call Oct. 12, 1901 at 12, col. 3"
  2. ^ As of June 30, 2011."Statement of Financial Position". GGU Magazine, Fall 2011. p. 40. 
  3. ^ "Rachel Van Cleave". GGU School of Law. 
  4. ^ a b c "U.S. News & World Report, "Best Law Schools: Golden Gate University"". Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ ABA Profile: Golden Gate University School of Law
  6. ^
  7. ^ Brian Tamanaha: The Quickly Exploding Law Graduate Debt Disaster. National Jurist, 04/18/2012
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Law Students Get Coveted Diplomas" (PDF). San Francisco Call. June 7, 1905. 
  10. ^ "Educational Section of Y.M.C.A. To Open" (PDF). San Francisco Call. September 9, 1909. 
  11. ^ "Y.M.C.A. Incorporates Evening Law School" (PDF). San Francisco Call. June 8, 1905. 
  12. ^ but cf. Office of the Secretary of State, California (June 1, 1910). Corporation Reg. No. C0061552. 
  13. ^ Cal. Civ. Code § 650(10) (1909). Deering.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Cal. Code Civ.P. § 280b, as amended by 1915 Cal. Stat. pp. 660 (repealed 1917).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Golden Gate University's place in San Francisco history" (PDF). Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Golden Gate College School of Law Bulletin 1966-1967". Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  17. ^ "The Caveat, January 1968" (1968). Caveat. Paper 14.". Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  18. ^ Butz, Otto W.; Velia Butz; Nisa Donnelly (January 2008). Voyage of Discovery: The History of Golden gate University Vol. III. Golden Gate University Press. p. 176. 
  19. ^ a b ABA Journal November 1956 (p. 1061).  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ ABA Journal September 1971 (p. 899).  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ Larsen, Rebecca (March 2011), "Most Diverse Law Schools (Diversity Honor Roll)", The National Jurist, San Diego, California: Cypress Magazines, 20 (6): 30–37 
  22. ^]
  23. ^ See also:
  24. ^ "Judy McKelvey: Celebrating Her Contributions to Golden Gate University School of Law and the Legal Profession". Retrieved May 26, 2010. 
  25. ^ 2013 California Bar Pass Rates
  26. ^ "Cost of Attendance". 
  27. ^ "Golden Gate University Profile". 
  28. ^ "2013-2014 Cost of Attendance". 
  29. ^ "ABA Disclosures" (PDF). 
  30. ^ "Golden Gate University Profile". 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, March 30, 2013. Retrieved on May 2, 2013. For the latest Employment Summary Reports from the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education, see
  33. ^ "ABA School Employment Summary Reports". 
  34. ^ USNews rankings & debt
  35. ^ See also: ABA Employment Questionnaires
  36. ^ a b c David Segal (4/30/11) Law Students Lose the Grant Game as Schools Win The New York Times
  37. ^ Alumni Forum, Spring 1978 (1978) p. 3

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°47′21″N 122°23′56″W / 37.7892°N 122.3988°W / 37.7892; -122.3988