UCLA School of Law

The UCLA School of Law is one of 12 professional schools[7] at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA Law has been consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 20 law schools in the United States since the inception of the U.S. News rankings in 1987. Its 18,000 alumni include leaders[8] in the judiciary, private law practice, business, government service, sports and entertainment law, and public interest law.[9] Jennifer L. Mnookin, an evidence scholar who joined the UCLA Law faculty in 2005, became the school's ninth dean, and third female dean, in 2015. She served in this capacity until June of 2022, when she stepped down to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was replaced by Russell Korobkin on an interim basis until a permanent successor is found. [10]

UCLA School of Law
Parent schoolUniversity of California, Los Angeles
School typePublic
Parent endowment$3.6 billion (2019-20)[1]
DeanRussell Korobkin (Interim) [2]
LocationLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Enrollment1,086 (as of May 18, 2022)[3]
USNWR ranking15th (2023)[4]
Bar pass rate88% (July 2019 1st time takers)[5]
ABA profile[6]


The Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library, UCLA School of Law

Founded in 1949, the UCLA School of Law is the third oldest of the five law schools within the University of California system.

In the 1930s, initial efforts to establish a law school at UCLA went nowhere as a result of resistance from UC president Robert Gordon Sproul, and because UCLA's supporters eventually refocused their efforts on first adding medical and engineering schools.[11]

During the mid-1940s, the impetus for the creation of the UCLA School of Law emerged from outside of the UCLA community. Assemblyman William Rosenthal of Boyle Heights (on the other side of Los Angeles from UCLA) conceived of and fought for the creation of the first public law school in Southern California as a convenient and affordable alternative to the expensive private law school at USC.[11][12][13] Rosenthal's first attempt in 1945 failed, but his second attempt was able to gain momentum when the State Bar of California and the UCLA Alumni Association announced their support for the bill.[14] On July 18, 1947, Governor Earl Warren authorized the appropriation of $1 million for the construction of a new law school at UCLA by signing Assembly Bill 1361 into state law.[12][14][13]

The search for the law school's first dean was difficult and delayed its opening by a year.[14] UCLA's law school planning committee prioritized merit, while the then-conservative Regents of the University of California prioritized political beliefs.[12] Another factor was a simultaneous deanship vacancy at Berkeley Law.[14] Near the end of 1948, the Committee finally identified a sufficiently conservative candidate willing to take the job: L. Dale Coffman, then the dean of Vanderbilt University Law School.[12] The Regents believed Coffman would help bring balance to the UCLA campus, which they saw as overrun by Communists.[12]

Coffman was able to recruit several distinguished faculty to UCLA, including Roscoe Pound, Brainerd Currie, Rollin M. Perkins, and Harold Verrall.[12][14] To build a law library, he hired Thomas S. Dabagh, then the law librarian of the Los Angeles County Law Library.[12][14] The UCLA School of Law officially opened in September 1949 in temporary quarters in former military barracks behind Royce Hall, and moved into a permanent home upon the completion of the original Law Building in 1951.[12][14][13]

Coffman's deanship did not end well, due to his vindictive and strongly prejudiced personality.[12][14][13] One sign of early trouble was when he drove out Dabagh in 1952 after they could not bridge their fundamental differences over how to run the law library, which was widely regarded around the UCLA community as contributing to Dabagh's early death in 1959.[12] On September 21, 1955, the faculty revolted in the form of a memorandum to chancellor Raymond B. Allen alleging that Coffman was categorically refusing to hire Jews or anyone he perceived to be leftist, and that the school's reputation was deteriorating because Coffman's abrasive personality had led to excessive faculty turnover.[12][13] On May 24, 1956, Coffman was stripped of his deanship after a lengthy investigation by a panel of deans of his biases and his "dictatorial, undemocratic, and autocratic" management style.[12] He remained on the faculty until his forced retirement in 1973, but continued to face allegations as late as 1971 that he was "an unreconstructed McCarthyite and pro-segregationist."[13]

Coffman's successor was Richard C. Maxwell, who served as the second dean of UCLA Law from 1958 to 1969.[15] Dean Maxwell "presided over happier, more harmonious years of institutional growth,"[13] and it was under his deanship that UCLA became "the youngest top-ranked law school in the country."[15] Dabagh's successor, Louis Piacenza, was able to grow the law school's library collection to 143,000 volumes by May 1963, which at that time was the 14th largest law school library in the United States.[13]

By 1963, the law school had 600 students in a building designed for 550, and the law building's deficiencies had become all too evident, such as a complete lack of air conditioning.[13] In October 1963, the law school administration announced a major remodeling and expansion project, which added air conditioning and a new wing to the building. During the 1960s, the law school grew so quickly that the new wing was already insufficient upon its completion in January 1967.[13] From its founding to the end of the 20th century, UCLA Law struggled with severe overcrowding, as librarians, faculty, staff, and as many as 18 student organizations—at one point, more than any other law school in the United States—competed for limited space in the law building for books, classes, conferences, and offices.[13]

The chronic space shortage was ultimately relieved by the addition of a wing for clinical education [16] and, after four grueling years of construction, completion of the new Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library on January 22, 2000.[13]

Under Maxwell, the faculty size tripled, from 12 to 37 professors, and the school hired its first female and African-American faculty members. Under Murray Schwartz, who led the school from 1969 to 1975, and William Warren, who served as dean from 1975 to 1982, the school became a pioneer in clinical legal education,[17] developing a skills-based approach that remains among the school’s hallmarks.

Students, too, broke new ground. In 1973, they created a network of student-run legal clinics first known as El Centro Legal de Santa Monica, which continues to provide pro bono services around Los Angeles with 15 separate clinics.[18]

In the 1990s and through subsequent years, the school established several "centers of excellence" that focus on education and advocacy in specific fields.


UCLA Law has approximately 1,000 students in its Juris Doctor (J.D.) program and 200 students in its Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, which is popular among foreign students intending to take the California bar exam. It also offers a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program for students who already have a J.D. and hope to become law professors, as well as a Master of Legal Studies[19] program for those who do not seek a law degree, but find a legal education an important complement to their professional obligations.

The school was a pioneer in clinical legal education and today offers a strong experiential education program. Through clinical courses and related offerings, the school gives students the opportunity to directly represent clients in a variety of settings while under expert supervision. UCLA Law's clinics also provide service to many people who cannot afford to pay for their own legal services, including veterans, the homeless, and indigent individuals appearing in criminal and immigration courts. In 2017, the school opened the Documentary Film Legal Clinic and Music Industry Clinic, which provide legal services to aspiring visual journalists, musicians and entrepreneurs in the arts, and the Veterans Justice Clinic at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center.

Students can elect to specialize in business law and policy, entertainment law, environmental law, public interest law, critical race studies, and law and philosophy. The roughly 300 students who begin law school at UCLA every year are divided into sections to encourage a sense of community. Students take all of their first year courses with their sections.[20]

Several joint degree programs are available, which require four years of study and result in the simultaneous award of a Juris Doctor and master's degree in Afro-American studies, American Indian studies, law and management; public health; public policy; philosophy, social welfare, and urban planning.[21]

Faculty and students

UCLA School of Law has a faculty of over 100 members with expertise in all major disciplines of law, representing "one of the most diverse in the country."[22] Thirteen members of the school's tenured faculty have been recognized for being the most-cited scholars in their areas of specialty.[23] The school faculty is ranked 11th[24] for scholarship, up from 15th in 2010 and 13th in 2013.

In 2021, 7,976 students applied to attend UCLA Law, and 366 were enrolled.[25] The average LSAT score for members of the entering class in 2021 is 170. The average GPA for members of the entering class in 2020 is 3.82.

J.D. Entering Class of 2021 Profile[26]
  • 130 Undergraduate schools represented
  • 56% Female; 44% Male
  • 49% Students of color
  • 55% California Residents; 45% Non-residents
  • 10% majored in engineering, technology, science or math
  • 15% are the first in their families to have completed college


UCLA School of Law's south entrance facing Charles E. Young Drive East

UCLA School of Law is located on the UCLA campus in the Westwood area of Los Angeles.[27]

The school proper is housed in a three-story brick building, with the library tower extending to four stories. A few offices, including the office of career services, the office of admissions and the office of graduate studies and international programs, are housed in an adjacent building, Dodd Hall.


In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCLA as 14th among U.S. law schools,[28] 4th in environmental law, 7th in trial advocacy, 8th in both corporate law and tax law, and 10th in criminal law.[29]

According to Brian Leiter's law school rankings, UCLA Law ranks 8th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty during the years 2009–2013.[30]

The Hollywood Reporter ranked UCLA the number one school for entertainment law in its inaugural 2012 rankings, 2014 - 2019, and 2021 - 2022.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]

Bar passage rates

In October 2020, UCLA Law's bar passage rates were 97% in California and 100% in New York.[40]

American Bar Association data shows that more than 95%[41] of 2019 graduates had secured full-time, long-term, JD-required employment within 10 months of graduation.


Journals and law reviews

  • UCLA Law Review
  • UCLA Asian/Pacific American Law Journal
  • UCLA Chicanx-Latinx Law Review
  • UCLA Criminal Justice Law Review
  • UCLA Disability Law Journal
  • UCLA Dukeminier Awards Journal of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law
  • UCLA Entertainment Law Review
  • UCLA Indigenous Peoples' Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance
  • UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy
  • UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs
  • UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law
  • UCLA Journal of Law & Technology
  • UCLA National Black Law Journal
  • UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal
  • UCLA Women's Law Journal

Notable people


Business and private practice


  • Sondra E. Berchin – entertainment lawyer and executive vice president for MCA Universal; also first UCLA Law grad to clerk at the Supreme Court of the United States
  • Thomas Bliss – motion picture producer with credits on over 30 films, including The Hurricane and Air Force One
  • John Branca – entertainment lawyer who specializes in representing rock and roll acts, as well as independent investors, music publishing catalogs, and independent music labels
  • Jeff Cohen – entertainment lawyer best known for work as child actor in The Goonies (1985)
  • Blye Pagon Faust - Academy Award-winning film producer best known for Spotlight (2015)
  • Robert Fitzpatrick – entertainment attorney, film producer, and music executive; President of Allied Artists International
  • Cynthia Gouw – television show host, news anchor, reporter, actress, and model
  • Chip Johannessen – writer and producer for several popular television shows
  • John Kerr - Tony Award-winning actor best known for Tea and Sympathy
  • Kalyanee Mam – director and producer of the award-winning documentary A River Changes Course
  • George Mastras – Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of AMC's Breaking Bad
  • Stephan Pastis – creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine
  • Kelly Perdew – winner of Season 2 of The Apprentice
  • Robert Rotstein - entertainment attorney and novelist
  • Stacey Snider - formerly served as co-chair or chair of three film studios: 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, and Universal
  • Howard K. Stern – entertainment lawyer who was the former domestic partner, attorney and agent of model and actress Anna Nicole Smith.
  • Lauren Woodland – Emmy Award-nominated actress
  • Ken Ziffren – entertainment attorney, L.A. film czar

Government and politics




  • Vincent Bugliosi – Attorney and writer of non-fiction works as Helter Skelter and The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President.
  • Lowell Milken – co-founder and chairman of the Milken Family Foundation
  • Karen I. Tse – human rights activist and social entrepreneur


  • Khaled Abou El Fadl – Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor of Law and expert in Islamic Jurisprudence; Chairman of Islamic Studies Department at UCLA[46]
  • Stephen Bainbridge – expert on corporations and business law
  • Ann E. Carlson – expert on U.S. environmental law and policy
  • Kimberlé Crenshaw – founding coordinator of the "Critical Race Theory Workshop" movement; Also teaches at Columbia Law School
  • Richard L. Hasen – expert in election law and campaign finance; Director, Safeguarding Democracy Project
  • Jill R. Horwitz – expert on health law, economics, and policy as well as the law of nonprofit organization
  • Lynn M. LoPucki – Security Pacific Bank Professor of Law. LoPucki's Bankruptcy Research Database provides data for empirical work bankruptcy
  • Hiroshi Motomura – expert on immigration law
  • David Nimmer – expert on copyright law
  • Frances Olsen – expert on feminist legal theory
  • Seana Shiffrin – expert on philosophy of law
  • Eugene Volokh – author of textbooks on First Amendment law and academic legal writing; author of over 45 law review articles; founder of The Volokh Conspiracy blog
  • Adam Winkler – Author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America and We the Corporations: How Corporate America Won Its Civil Rights
  • Ken Ziffren – entertainment attorney, L.A. film czar, founder of UCLA Law's Ziffren Center for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law


  • Richard L. Abel – member of the faculty since 1974; expert on sociology of law
  • Brainerd Currie – professor (1949–1952); expert on the conflict of laws in the United States
  • Jesse Dukeminier – professor (1963–2003); expert on property law, wills, trusts, and estates
  • James L. Malone – associate dean (1961–1967); later became Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (1981–1985)
  • Mari Matsuda – first female Asian-American law professor to obtain tenure at any law school in the United States, while teaching at UCLA Law in 1998
  • Richard C. Maxwell – Dean of the School of Law (1958–1969)
  • Jennifer Mnookin – expert on evidence (law) (2005–2022), became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2022
  • Melville B. Nimmer – professor (1962–1985); expert on U.S. copyright law and father of David Nimmer
  • Cruz Reynoso – professor (1991–2001), former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California (1982–1987)
  • Michael H. Schill – dean and professor (2004–2009), expert on property law and urban planning; became president of the University of Oregon in 2015 and president of Northwestern University in 2022
  • Lynn Stout – professor (2001–2012); expert on corporate law, securities, and derivatives


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