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UCLA School of Law

University of California, Los Angeles – School of Law

A world-class legal education at a great public university

Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest of the top-ranked law schools in the United States. Its faculty are influential teachers and scholars, and its 22,000-plus alumni are leaders in government, industry, social justice and the legal profession. The school offers students a strong foundation in the law and practical training in a collaborative, intellectually rich environment.

From its beginning, UCLA Law has offered an innovative and exceptional legal education. UCLA Law fosters a learning environment that is collaborative and challenging. It cultivates a faculty of cutting-edge scholars and dedicated teachers who embrace its core values. The student body broadly represents the rich diversity of Los Angeles and the nation. And alumni are brilliant leaders in law firms, business, public interest work, academia, government and the judiciary.

The school grew out of state lawmakers’ sustained effort in the 1940s to create Southern California’s first public law school — more affordable and accessible than private institutions.

The inaugural graduating Class of 1952 had 44 members, including five women — among them the top student and law journal editor — as well as military veterans and others who gravitated toward a young and nimble institution.

As its student body and faculty expanded through the decades, the school became a pioneer in clinical legal education, developing a skills-based approach that remains among the school’s hallmarks and continues to have broad resonance in legal education today. “As a young law school,” one dean later recalled, “it was just easier for us to strike out on our own because we had no traditions to break.”

UCLA Law also established areas of focus that would blossom into full-fledged centers of scholarship and study. With copyright legend Melville Nimmer on faculty, the school held its first entertainment law courses. Other professors developed curricula in environmental law, Indian law and communications law, and the school launched its International and Comparative Law Program. The Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is among the top-ranked environmental programs in the country. Alumni of the Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law routinely are ranked among the entertainment industry’s power lawyers. The strength of the school’s international law program has expanded with the 2017 creation of the Promise Institute for Human Rights.

UCLA Law has established other centers of excellence that are driven by faculty members who are among the leading figures in their fields. The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy is the leading organization for research and analysis of LGBT legal issues. The David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy trains students who are committed to advancing social justice and serving communities of need in Los Angeles and around the world. The Critical Race Studies program is the first law school program to formalize the study of the intersection of race and the law.

In recent years, UCLA Law has continued to work with alumni and friends of the school to create programs that address sophisticated and emerging areas of the law, including the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy and the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy. The school also created the A. Barry Cappello Program in Trial Advocacy, offering students a robust combination of classwork and national trial competition experience. And UCLA Law established two new centers in areas of growing importance: the Center for Immigration Law and Policy and the Institute on Technology, Law and Policy, which is the first formal collaboration between UCLA Law and the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

In other impactful ways, UCLA Law has grown while expanding the definition of what a law school of the future offers. The school began a Master of Legal Studies degree, a program designed to serve non-lawyers who are looking to cultivate legal knowledge and skills. UCLA Law Women LEAD, a networking organization of UCLA Law alumnae and students, founded in 2015, has grown to more than 2,000 members. And the school has also expanded its robust LL.M. program, drawing 200 students each year from dozens of countries.

Importantly, UCLA Law has also recently deepened its commitment to serving the public, profession and society. The Achievement Fellowship program, established in 2017, offers full-tuition scholarships to qualified students who have overcome exceptional challenges in order to attend law school. The school has also launched the First Gen In initiative to support students who are the first in their families to earn college degrees.

Today, UCLA Law has more than 60 full-time faculty members, many of whom are recognized by other professors of law and jurists across the nation as the most influential scholars in their disciplines. The school’s 22,000 alumni include nearly 200 state and federal judges, several members of Congress, top attorneys in government and private practice, leaders in Hollywood, attorneys who are improving the lives of people in under-represented communities, and scholars who teach in law schools around the United States.