Thomas Jefferson School of Law

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law
School typePrivate, Non-profit
DeanJoan Bullock[1]
LocationSan Diego, CA, US
Enrollment650 Full-time; 240 Part-time (approx.)[2]
Faculty103 Full-time and adjunct[3]
USNWR rankingRank not published[3]
Bar pass rate25% (July 2018 first-time bar takers) and 10% (July 2018 bar repeaters) [4]
WebsiteThomas Jefferson School of Law
ABA profileThomas Jefferson School of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) is an independent law school in San Diego, California. It offers a Juris Doctor and three Master of Laws programs, including one that is exclusively online,[5] as well as a combined J.D./M.B.A. with San Diego State University.

Its law program is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). However, in 2017, the school was one of 10 American law schools found to be out of compliance with the ABA requirement that schools admit only students who appear capable of earning a J.D. degree and passing the bar examination. As a result, the school is on probation.[6]


The Thomas Jefferson School of Law was founded in 1969 as the San Diego campus of the Western State University College of Law and operated as such until 1995. It became independent in 1995 and received approval from the ABA in 1996.[7] It joined the Association of American Law Schools in 2008.[8]

In January 2011, TJSL opened a new campus located in the East Village district of downtown San Diego. The campus is an eight-story 305,000-square-foot (28,300 m2) building complies with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Gold Certification requirements and has classrooms, a two-story law library (containing 1,250,598 volumes), offices, collaborative work areas, and a legal clinic.[9][10][11][12][13] A variety of fossils found during construction, including mammoth and whale bones, were donated to the San Diego Natural History Museum.[13][14]

In 2018, the school announced it would vacate its campus as a cost-cutting measure, moving into an office building in downtown San Diego.[15] Classes will be held in the new location beginning fall 2018.[15] The school is also not admitting students to begin in the spring of 2019.[16]


The program offers Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Science of Law (M.S.L) and JSD "Doctor of Laws or Juridical Science" degrees. Certificate Programs in International Financial Centers, United States Taxation, E-commerce, Anti-Money Laundering & Compliance, and Trusts and Estate Planning are available.[17] Faculty for the program are generally part-time and populated with industry professionals from around the globe.[18]

Bar pass rates[edit]

The July 2018 California bar pass rate for TJSL graduates was 25% for first time takers and 10% for repeat takers, vs statewide averages of 55% and 16%, respectively.[19]


The ranking of the School of Law by U.S. News & World Report is not published, as U.S. News does not publish the ranking of schools that fall below 145.[20] The School of Law is not ranked in National Jurist's rankings of the top 80 law schools in the United States.[21] The School of Law has been described as "the most underrated" based on the spread between the Social Science Research Network Ranking of the School of Law faculty's scholarship compared to its U.S. News ranking.[22]


Students begin classes in January or August, attend the three-year, full-time program or the four-year, part-time program, and accelerate graduation one semester by taking additional classes during the summer. Day and evening classes are offered.

TJSL was listed with a "B+" in the March 2011 "Diversity Honor Roll" by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.[23]

Student debt[edit]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2013 graduates who incurred law school debt was $180,665 (not including undergraduate debt), and 92% of 2013 graduates took on debt.[24] Only 28.8% of 2012 graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers) within 9 months after graduation.[25]

2018-2019 Tuition:[26]

  • Full-time: $49,500
  • Part-time: $37,130

Law School Transparency calculates that the total debt-financed full cost of attendance for full-time students who do not receive tuition discounts (scholarships) to be $275,004.[27]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law for the 2018-2019 academic year is $74,700.[28] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $275,004.[29]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

Employment statistics[edit]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates[30]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed – Bar Passage Required (Full-Time, Long-Term)
Employed – Bar Passage Required (Part-Time and/or Short-Term)
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 293 Graduates

According to Thomas Jefferson School of Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 29% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[31] Thomas Jefferon's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 43.7%, 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.[32]

In 2013, the National Law Journal reported the college has the worst unemployment rate after graduation (31.5%) amongst all law schools in the country.[33]

Employment Outcomes: According to the law professor blog, The Faculty Lounge, based on 2012 ABA data, only 28.8% of graduates obtained full-time, long term positions requiring bar admission (i.e., jobs as lawyers), 9 months after graduation, ranking 192nd out of 197 law schools.[34]

24.2% of the Class of 2011 were known to be employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs (excepting solo practitioners) nine months after graduation. 54.2% of the Class of 2011 were employed in part-time or short-term jobs, unemployed and seeking employment or pursuing additional education. The employment status of 3.8% of the Class of 2011 was unknown. 0% of the Class of 2011 obtained a federal clerkship. 0.8% of the Class of 2011 were known to be employed in law firms of 101 attorneys or more. 5.1% of the Class of 2011 were known to be employed in full-time, long-term government or public interest jobs. 0% of the Class of 2011 were employed in school funded jobs. [27]

In January 2011, a New York Times article about the inability of many recent law school graduates to get jobs discussed Thomas Jefferson's claim that 92% of the class of 2009 was employed within nine months of graduation.[35] The school's claim was based on a survey of the class of 2009. (Under ABA rules, 25% of graduates who do not participate in employment surveys are counted as employed.).[35] In the New York Times article, the school's Associate Dean for Student Affairs attributed the average debt level to the school's admittance of immigrants and those who are the first in their family to attend law school – people who are statistically more likely to lack individual or family resources.[35]

U.S. News & World Report has reported that the average Thomas Jefferson student graduates with $131,800 in debt and 95% of students graduate in debt.[36] On March 22, 2012, U.S. News & World Report included Thomas Jefferson in its list of "10 Law Schools That Lead to the Most Debt." [37] The Wall Street Journal also ran a story in June 2012 listing TJSL as one of the 'bottom five' schools for 2011 graduate employment.[38]

In May 2011, Anna Alaburda filed a class-action lawsuit against her alma mater, alleging that the law school had committed fraud by publishing deceptive post-graduation employment statistics and salary data in order to bait new students into enrolling. Alaburda, a 2008 honors graduate, claimed that despite graduating at the top of her class and passing the California bar exam, she was unable to find suitable legal employment, and had racked up more than $150,000 in student loan debt. This is the first time a law school would stand trial for allegedly inflating its employment statistics. The jury found in favor of TJSL with a 9-3 verdict.[39]

TJSL has been recognized in recent reports for transparency about graduate employment. In 2012 the National Jurist ranked TJSL as one of the top 15 law schools in the country in transparency, and gave the school an "A" in transparency.[40] Also in 2012, Law School Transparency reported that TJSL was one of only 23% of law schools which received a perfect score for transparency.[41]

Center for Solo Practitioners[edit]

Since Fall 2012, TJSL has operated a lawyer incubator program called the Center for Solo Practitioners. The incubator provides space and support for selected alumni who are going into solo practice. It is also intended to help serve under-represented communities.[42]

At the 2013 annual meeting of the American Bar Association, the Center for Solo Practitioners was honored with an ABA award in recognition of "successful implementation of a project or program specifically targeted to solo and small-firm lawyers."[43]

Additional programs offered[edit]

Intellectual Property Fellowship Program[edit]

In 2009, TJSL initiated an Intellectual Property Fellowship Program[44] for students with undergraduate or advanced degrees in the hard sciences or engineering. The William Mitchell College of Law Intellectual Property Law Institute ranked TJSL 15th nationwide for its Intellectual Property course offerings.[45]

The TJSL Center for Law and Intellectual Property has course offerings in copyright, patent, trademark and unfair competition law as well as cyberspace law, biotechnology law and bioethics, telecommunications and media law, and sports and entertainment law.[46]

Intellectual Property Law Association (IPLA)[edit]

The law school has an Intellectual Property Law Association (IPLA)[47] which offers Continuing Legal Education credit. Programs include an Intellectual Property Career Day presented in cooperation with Thomas Jefferson's Career Office.[48] IPLA has also presented a Patents in China event in cooperation with IP law firm.[49]

International law[edit]

The Center for Global Legal Studies[50] offers a specialized program in international law. In 2007, the Center inaugurated a summer study program at Zhejiang University College of Law in Hangzhou, China.[51] TJSL also offers a summer study program in Nice, France.[citation needed]

Social Justice Center[edit]

The Center for Law and Social Justice[52] is a research and teaching program in areas of public policy and law in its field.

Graduate programs[edit]

Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers a Juris Doctor (JD), a Masters of Science of Law (MSL) for those without a law degree, a Masters of Law (LLM) for those with a law degree, and a Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) which is a PhD equivalent. The MSL and LLM program have concentrations in: 1) Taxation; 2) Financial Compliance and Risk Management; 3) Financial Services and Wealth Management. The programs were started in 2008, making them one of the longest standing online programs at any ABA-law school.

Notable people[edit]


  • Roger T. Benitez 1978 – Federal Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California
  • Bonnie Dumanis 1976 – First openly gay or lesbian DA in the country.[53] Also the first Jewish woman DA in San Diego
  • Duncan Hunter 1976 – Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009 and 2008 presidential candidate
  • Jessica King 2001 – Wisconsin professor and former Wisconsin state senator
  • Leslie Alexander – A former stock trader from New Jersey who formerly owned the National Basketball Association (NBA) team Houston Rockets.
  • Tim Purpura 1992 - Former general manager of the Houston Astros


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Press Release" Joan bullock appointed Dean & President, July 1, 2017
  2. ^ "Thomas Jefferson School of Law" (PDF). ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "U.S. News & World Report, "Best Law Schools: Thomas Jefferson School of Law"". Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "How to enroll in America’s first LLM Program".
  6. ^ Frakt, David (2017-12-15). "The 2017 Bottom 10 Law Schools in the Country". The Faculty Lounge. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  7. ^ "ABA Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  8. ^ AALS Member Schools
  9. ^ TJSL Groundbreaking
  10. ^ "About the Central Library Project in Downtown San Diego" at Support My Library
  11. ^ TJSL New Campus
  12. ^ "Local Law School's New Campus To Open Tuesday Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Is Relocating From Old Town". New 10 Now. 19 January 2011.
  13. ^ a b Sloan, Karen. "Thomas Jefferson Law unveils new home — on site of 300,000-year-old fossils", National Law Journal, 18 January 2011.
  14. ^ Powell, Ronald W. "Dig yields another big find", San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 February 2009.
  15. ^ a b Sloan, Karen (May 31, 2018). "Law School Touting New $90M Digs in 2011 Now Housed in Office Building". The Recorder. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  16. ^ Zaretsky, Staci (October 17, 2018). "Struggling Law School Will Not Accept New Students This Spring". Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  17. ^ "Advanced Diploma and Certificate Law Programs"
  18. ^ "LLM and JSD Faculty"
  19. ^ Zaretsky, Staci. "A Breakdown Of California Bar Exam Results By Law School (July 2018)". Above the Law. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  20. ^ "Thomas Jefferson School of Law". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  21. ^ "Building a Better Ranking". National Jurist. Retrieved 2013-02-16.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Larsen, Rebecca (March 2011). "Most Diverse Law Schools (Diversity Honor Roll)". The National Jurist. San Diego, California: Cypress Magazines. 20 (6): 30–37
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b "Thomas Jefferson School of Law Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  28. ^ "Cost of Attendance".
  29. ^ "Thomas Jefferson Profile".
  30. ^ "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates" (PDF).
  31. ^ "ABA Disclosures" (PDF).
  32. ^ "Thomas Jefferson Profile".
  33. ^
  34. ^ Rosin, Gary. "Full Rankings: Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long Term", The Faculty Lounge, March 30, 2013. Retrieved on February 24, 2014, -- For the latest Employment Summary Reports from the American Bar Association, Section of Legal Education, see
  35. ^ a b c (1/08/11) Is Law School a Losing Game? The New York Times
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ The Wall Street Journal Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^
  40. ^ (free reg required).
  41. ^ See ABA article about the report at ; see also and the corresponding data appendices.
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Intellectual Property Fellowship Program
  45. ^ William Mitchell College of Law Intellectual Property Law Institute
  46. ^ Center for Law and Intellectual Property
  47. ^ Intellectual Property Law Association (IPLA)
  48. ^ First Annual IP Career Day
  49. ^ Patents in China
  50. ^ Center for Global Legal Studies
  51. ^ "China Summer Program – Zhejiang University Law School"
  52. ^ Center for Law and Social Justice
  53. ^ Broder, John M. (2002-11-13). "In a First, a Lesbian Is Elected District Attorney in San Diego". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  54. ^ "Marjorie Cohn | Thomas Jefferson School of Law". Retrieved 2010-09-03.

External links[edit]

32°42′37″N 117°09′15″W / 32.71028°N 117.15417°W / 32.71028; -117.15417Coordinates: 32°42′37″N 117°09′15″W / 32.71028°N 117.15417°W / 32.71028; -117.15417