Founded in 1921 by an alumnus of the University of Chicago Law School, the Pacific University McGeorge School of Law (McGeorge Law) started as the Sacramento Law School when professor Verne Adrian McGeorge began teaching law school in night classes. In 1966, the Sacramento Law school merged with the Pacific University and became the law school it is today. The school now offers several degree programs including several programs for non-attorneys. The school is located in downtown Sacramento just minutes away from the state capital and legislative complex. In its history, McGeorge Law has educated a number of future judges, California and U.S. legislators, several radio personalities, and best-selling author Steve Martini.
The Juris Doctor program at McGeorge Law requires 88 credit hours for completion of which 37 are required courses. Students may complete the J.D. program either in three years of full-time instruction or in four years on a part-time schedule. During the first year of study, students are grounded in the foundational courses of American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take skill-based courses covering analytic skills and global lawyering skills. Part-time students complete the same courses over the course of three semesters.
The skills courses at McGeorge Law are unique in that they are integrated into traditional classwork. Students learn practical skills while learning core academic subjects. Additionally, all first-year students take a course in the Legal Profession as they begin to identify their professional identity and form their career goals.
After the first-year curriculum, students are also required to take courses covering evidence, professional responsibility, and statutes & regulation. All students are required to complete a major writing project as well as satisfy the requirement for experiential learning credits. The rest of the curriculum is elective of nature, allowing students to choose from McGeorge’s law extensive course catalog as they prepare for their professional careers.
McGeorge Law does offer formal certification programs in several areas where the school has notable expertise including health law, environmental law, and international tax law. Certifications ensure that a student has completed the necessary academic and practical lessons to succeed in a particular practice areas.
For any students who do not achieve a 3.0 GPA after the first year, McGeorge Law also provides a directed study program that specifies various courses to ensure students’ academic success.
Alongside their Juris Doctor program, McGeorge Law also offers a number of advanced legal degrees and programs targeted at non-attorneys. For students who have obtained their J.D. (or its foreign equivalent), McGeorge offers a Master of Law (LL.M) program as well as a Doctor of Juridical Science (J.S.D.) program. The LL.M program requires 24 credit hours for completion and may be focused in one of three areas: a general LL.M focused on U.S. law and policy; an LL.M focused on transnational business practice; or, an LL.M in water and environmental policy. The general LL.M is tailored for international students who wish to familiarize themselves with the American legal system. The LL.M also allows students from international law schools to sit for the bar exam in some jurisdictions.
The J.S.D. degree is intended for students who wish to pursue an area of legal academia through extensive research and writing. After completing 12 hours of advanced coursework, students work in close contact with their dissertation supervisor to complete a writing project of publishable quality.
Non-attorneys may pursue a Master of Science in Law at McGeorge Law. The M.S.L. degree is intended to bolster non-attorneys understanding of the law especially for professionals whose careers intersect frequently with legal issues. Students design their own curriculum of 30 hours of coursework. In the alternative, McGeorge Law has created four focus areas with predesigned course suggestions: government law, health care, human resources, and water & environmental law. The programs in government law and water & environmental law are online programs that may be completed remotely.
J.D. candidates at McGeorge Law may also pair their J.D. with an LL.M program in water resources in an accelerated program. Students spend the later semesters of the J.D. curriculum focused on the subject and complete additional advanced courses to earn both degrees.
Careers and Career Placement
Over 85% of all McGeorge Law graduates are employed within 10 months of graduation. The majority of graduates are employed in positions that either require a law license (74%) or prefer a candidate with a Juris Doctor degree (21.5%). Almost 60% of employed graduates choose traditional law firm work as their first career choice. Additionally, law firms with less than 50 attorneys account for almost 50% of all employed graduates. A quarter of graduates opt for careers in government offices or the public interest sector. Smaller portions of graduates chose careers in the business sector (9%) or secured judicial clerkships (5%). Almost 87% of all graduates remained in the state of California to begin their professional careers.
The Career Development Office (CDO) at McGeorge Law staffs five professionals who offer students a range of career-related services. The CDO begins offering career services to first-year students through individualized counseling sessions, self-assessment testing, and a variety of programs that help students build career skills and introduce them to the many career options in the legal field. The CDO administers all on-campus interviews, prepares students with mock interview sessions, and offers students the opportunity to build their professional network through pro bono work and networking programs. The CDO also maintains an active alumni network that helps students transition from the classroom into their professional lives.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Since opening its clinical program over 45 years ago, McGeorge Law has been a pioneer in teaching students the practical skills necessary to succeed in their careers. Aside from rigorous, skill-based coursework such as the four semester class on legal research, writing, and analysis, McGeorge Law emphasizes putting students into the field to learn by doing. The law school was the first in California to require all students to complete two field placements and a total of 11 hours of experiential learning.
The clinical program at McGeorge Law offers students seven different practice areas where they can meet and represent real clients in a variety of practice areas. Students work with faculty experts who oversee their representation and offer critical feedback at every juncture. This process allows students to transfer the lessons of the classroom to the actual practice of law. McGeorge Law also offers students external field placements through their externship program which offers students an even broader range of practice areas where they can build their legal skills. McGeorge Law’s proximity allows for a number of externships located within the California state offices such as the Attorney General’s office of the California Supreme Court.
The student body at McGeorge Law is notably tight-knit as the law school puts an emphasis on building long-term personal and professional relationships. The law school celebrates its diversity with a dedicated center for diversity and inclusion as well as a student organization program that allows students to share the common heritage or viewpoints. The law school is located in close proximity to the university’s student center which features health, sustainable food options. All law students have access to counseling services as well as recreational facilities.
While at McGeorge Law, students enjoy life in one of America’s most desirable location. With its famously spectacular weather and close proximity to the Norther California wilderness, Sacramento is truly a one-of-a-kind setting. Housing is available both on and off-campus. Outside of school, students enjoy everything Sacramento offers including professional sports team, a stunning riverfront, one of the country’s best art scenes, and easy access to some of the most famous national parks in the country.