Although its history dates back only to the mid 20th century, the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law (or UCLA Law) has become one of the most important and prestigious public law schools in the country. Located in the Westwood area of Los Angeles, UCLA Law sits adjacent to the communities of Bel Air and Beverly Hills with close proximity to the beachfront community of Santa Monica. In this idyllic setting, UCLA Law has built a strong tradition of public service through experiential education which has made their graduates some of the most sought after in the country. The UCLA School of Law has produced more members of the 9th Circuit Federal Court than any other law school in the country. As a leader in many practice areas, admission to UCLA Law is extremely competitive for the roughly 330 spots in each first year class. UCLA Law also has a substantial Masters program that attracts a number of foreign students who hope to sit for the California Bar Exam.
Along with the traditional core courses of Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property and Torts, first year students at UCLA Law take a number of unique courses that prepare them for both their legal education and their future careers as practicing lawyers. Before their classes even begin, all students participate in a week long, intensive seminar which prepares students to meet the demands of the legal education. First year students also take a year long class in research and writing as well as a unique class that introduces the lawyer-client relationship by teaching the skills of legal interviewing. Finally, first year students take a seminar in Modes of Legal Inquiry which introduces the practice of legal analysis and theory across a broad array of subject matters.
In their upper class years, students at UCLA Law focus on one of seven designated specializations that range from standards such as business or environmental law to areas that showcase UCLA Law’s commitment to progressive rights with a specialization in Critical Race Studies. UCLA Law also has one of the best entertainment law programs in the country. Prior to graduation, students also complete a course in professional responsibility, a major writing assignment, and at least six credits in experiential education.
UCLA Law’s Masters of Law (LL.M) degree program is one of the largest in the country with over 200 students admitted each year for the 9 month program. The program is notably popular with international students looking for a grounding in the US Legal System prior to sitting for the California Bar Exam. To prepare international students, the program offers a 10 day seminar titled American Law in the Global Context. For the remaining two semesters, students must complete 22 hours in whichever courses they want to prepare for their upcoming legal careers.
In addition to their LL.M, UCLA Law recently added a Masters of Legal Studies program which is a one year program designed for students in other disciplines who want to compliment their degree with a deep understanding of the US legal system.
Finally, UCLA Law offers a Doctorate of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree which requires a year of residential coursework (not including coursework done in conjunction with an LL.M degree) as well as a research project that culminates in an oral defense of a dissertation as well as publishable essays.
In addition to their advanced degrees, UCLA Law offers eight established joint degree programs as well as an option to individually construct a joint degree program to incorporate any discipline into the study of law.
Career and Career Placement
Within 10 months of graduation, the UCLA Law Class of 2018 was overwhelmingly employed with 95% of the graduates finding long term employment in careers requiring a law license, a law degree, or a university funded position. The majority of these careers (89%) required a law license with almost 80% choosing jobs in law firms. It is noteworthy that almost half of the students chose small or medium sized law firms over the more traditional large firms of 500+ attorneys. Over 10% of graduates opted for careers in the public interest sector as well as a number of graduates who accepted judicial clerkships or government positions.
Students at UCLA Law are offered a designated office for public interest careers–the Office of Public Interest Programs–as a well as a traditional office for other career options–the Office of Career Services. Between both offices, students have access to over 17 career services professionals to help provide guidance and counseling as they navigate their many career options. UCLA Law has a designated counselor to focus on Judicial Clerkships. UCLA Law’s career services offices reflect the school’s deep commitment to public interest law as well as gender and racial equality. Both offices manage the on campus interview process and provide a range of networking and career fairs.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
UCLA has a deep commitment to experiential education reflected in their dedicated department to the practical study of law as well as a robust clinical program. The experiential education program at UCLA law school focuses on building practical skills under the supervision of leading attorneys in the field through simulations, externships, practicums, and UCLA’s extensive clinical program which allows students to represent real clients with real legal problems. UCLA’s clinical program offers 18 different practice areas where students can sit “first chair” and take the lead on a number of legal cases.
Graduates of UCLA Law are required to remain in-residence during their 6 semesters, taking at least 12 course hours each semester.
True to its cosmopolitan area, student life at UCLA Law is notably diverse with a tremendous emphasis placed on inclusivity and restorative practices. Throughout the academic year, the law school hosts numerous dialogue events that seek to engage students in a range of social and justice issues. UCLA Law is a leader in the practice and teaching of restorative principles which aim to apply the principles of restorative justice to the teaching and practice of law.
The law school campus is set within the larger campus of UCLA and offers students one of the most unique settings in the country. Law students can take advantage of a limitless supply of health and wellness programs offered by the university as well as access public transportation and student housing options.
Living in Los Angeles offers students an opportunity to experience one of the most thriving cities in the world including professional sports and the heart of the entertainment industry.