Santa Clare University, founded in 1851, was one of the first universities in the state of California and the oldest Catholic university in the Western United States. The university founded its law school in 1911. The Santa Clara University School of Law (Santa Clara Law) is located in the heart of silicon valley and, therefore, has embraced the region spirit of technology and innovation while still remaining true to its Catholic heritage of social justice. The school is noteworthy for its program in intellectual property as well as its diversity. Recently, the law school moved into a newly built $60 million dollar building that houses the school in one of the most technologically advanced law schools in the country.
The first-year curriculum at Santa Clara Law requires 28 hours of proscribed course work. Students are grounded in five of the six core courses of American legal education: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. These core courses are complemented by a course in legal writing and research as well as a seminar course in the fundamentals of lawyering. Civil procedure and contracts are both taught in two semesters.
Upper-level students must comply with the law school’s upper division point system. Until students complete 54 hours of coursework, they must continue to take courses from the pool of “proficiency” courses earning a C+ or better. Students who do not complete at least four proficiency courses by the time they complete 68 credit hours are required to complete additional work to ensure bar preparedness. The proficiency program is intended to make sure students are prepared to pass the bar exam and practice law.
All students at Santa Clara must all complete an advanced writing requirement and complete six hours of experiential learning.
Santa Clara law also offers a Master of Laws (LL.M) program with three different concentrations. The LL.M in intellectual property law offers students who have already obtained their J.D. the opportunity to study intellectual property from one of the most respected faculties in the country in the heart of Silicon Valley. Santa Clara law also offers an LL.M focused on international and comparative law. For international students who earned their law degree from a foreign law school, Santa Clara Law offers an LL.M program focused on American legal studies. This program is intended to ground international lawyers in the fundamentals of American law as well as prepare them to sit for the bar exam. All three concentrations require one year of residential coursework.
For non-attorneys, Santa Clara law offers students a unique online Master of Legal Science program in the area of compliance. As professionals in any number of careers are called to understand the intersection of compliance law and a variety of professions. As security and risk become major metrics for performance, more professionals need a solid understanding of the legal framework of compliance law. The online program allows professionals to complete their masters remotely without interrupting their professional careers.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent statistics, nearly 75% of all graduates of Santa Clara law are employed in careers requiring either a law license or preferring a law degree within 10 months of graduation. True to its location, the single most common career path for graduates was into the business sector as Santa Clara Law has built a reputation for producing excellent in-house counsel for corporate law firms. Small law firms of 1-10 attorneys were the next most popular career path followed by large law firm positions and government sector work. Almost 92% of graduates began their careers in California.
The Santa Clara Law Office of Career Management (OCM) staffs four professional counselors who guide students from their first year into their first careers. Aside from counseling students, the OCM helps students with their job preparation kit that provides a host of tools for preparing resumes, prepping for interviews, and planning for success. The OCM also manages the on-campus interview process for both summer and permanent careers. Students also have the option to attend career fairs both on campus and the surrounding region. These career fairs expose students to a wide range of employers and career paths.
Santa Clara Law offers its students a number of opportunities to translate their academic studies into real world skills based learning. Primarily, students learn practical skills through participation in one of the schools legal clinics. The law school’s five legal clinics are supervised by faculty members who work closely with students as they engage with real clients on a number of legal issues ranging from housing issues to technical start ups. Students also work with the innocence project that attempts to free wrongly convicted felons on death row.
Students may also learn practical skills through the school’s externship program, working on technology-related issues at California’s Broadband Institute, or by working with the Institute for Lawyer Leadership Education where students work with legal academics on a range of leadership and ethics issues. Santa Clara Law also offers a hands-on conflict resolution team that competes in contests around the country as well as a moot court team that participates in appellate advocacy competitions.
The student body at Santa Clara Law is renowned for its diversity, consistently ranked as one of the top ten most diverse law schools in the country. This diversity is reflected in the school’s student organizations, which celebrate the many backgrounds and identities of the student body. The school’s Catholic heritage also focuses on the Jesuit Order’s commitment to social justice. Santa Clara students are engaged in a number of pro bono programs and serve the surrounding community through the community legal clinic. Students also enjoy one of the newest law school buildings in the country that provides a cafe and open student spaces that encourage casual interaction.
Santa Clara–the heart of Silicon Valley–is one of the most unique settings for law school in the country. Students have the option of living in one of four graduate student housing communities or venturing into the surrounding area for a multitude of housing options. The surrounding community is renowned for its ingenuity, its culinary scene, and its proximity to the Pacific coast and nearby San Francisco.