Founded over a hundred years ago, Southwestern Law School boasts a forward-facing mission: ‘to produce highly skilled graduates who are capable of integrating theory and practice to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century’. Although mission and output are clearly important to the academic environment, there’s a lot more to what makes Southwestern Law School a great place to study. Let’s start with the top 10 reasons:
Southwestern is selective when it comes to student enrolments, stating that: ‘Southwestern is a place for people who want to make a positive impact, who are fascinated about learning, and who know the benefits and rewards of hard work’. With its small class sizes, students at Southwestern can really get the most out of the superb faculty and facilities. There are no ‘office hours’, instead the faculty is easily accessible, and is keen to promote informal discussions around campus and provide individualized student services. Not only that, but its many global and local connections, externships, and placements instil in Southwestern students a unique, 360-degree view of the wider world.
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2. The Entertainment Industry
The entertainment industry is one of the largest in California, helping set the state apart as the world’s 6th largest global economy (when counted as separate to the United States). Along with the technology industry, entertainment not only boosts the city’s economy, making it a more comfortable and attractive place in which to live and study, but Southwestern runs a number of Entertainment Law Programs; if you’re planning to specialize in entertainment, why not do it somewhere you can get involved in the world’s most booming business?
3. Real-Life Industry Experience
Industry experience has become an increasingly important factor when it comes to graduate employment, and at Southwestern, there’s the opportunity for all students to directly experience the attorney’s role through a variety of placements. These Externship Programs are available as an elective course for traditional students, but remain a guaranteed externship for SCALE courses, which has seen well over 70 percent of students complete at least one externship throughout their time at the school. Similarly, Southwestern’s Clinical Program provides another setting in which students gain practical skills, as well as the chance to provide important services to the wider community. Particularly popular is the Immigration Law Clinic, where students provide free legal representation to low-income children and adults in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Violence Against Women Act, and U visa cases.
4. Thorough Student Support
An area in which Southwestern truly excels is in its provision of academic support, open and accessible to all law students. The school’s custom Bar Prep program, for example, is open to LL.M. students, as is the Writing Center. These high-end facilities offer comprehensive advice and guidance throughout every stage of its students’ law careers. “Not only do we provide mentorship within the General LL.M. Program, we also provide support for joining the profession in the U.S.,” says Vik Kanwar, Associate Director of International Programs at Southwestern Law School.
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While Southwestern’s campus is only a block from the nearest metro station, granting students easy access to the wonders of the city, everything they need is already on campus. The Bullocks Wilshire Building, a 1929 Art Deco landmark, is now home to the Taylor Law Library, Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center, technology-enhanced classrooms and seminar rooms, as well as a dining area, student lounges and the Fitness Center. With additional classrooms, two more courtrooms, the Legal Clinic and Writing Center (providing individualized assistance, workshops and courses geared toward making students better legal writers), as well as facilities like the career services, student organizations and a student housing complex right there on the site, Southwestern students benefit from top-notch recreation and study facilities right from their backyard.
6. Innovative Curriculum
Southwestern is American Bar Association-approved, meaning each student gains the skills and knowledge they need to pass the bar. But Southwestern’s achievements stretch further than this; recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for Innovation, Southwestern students are able to choose the way they learn. With four different programs of study leading to a J.D degree, three tracks to choose from in their legal and research writing courses, and a unique J.D./M.A. in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding, Southwestern has something to capture the ideas of all young aspiring lawyers. Read more about the degree options and pathways here.
7. LL.M. Options
Linked to their innovative curriculum is Southwestern’s take on the General Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program. Rather than solely a tool to pass the bar, Southwestern’s LL.M. is flexible, built to specifically suit each student’s personal and professional goals. They work closely with faculty to develop a course tailored to their interests and needs, selecting from more than 150 elective and core courses. Also offered is an LL.M. in Entertainment and Media Law, which takes advantage of Southwestern’s long involvement with LA’s entertainment and media industries, and seeks to prepare the next generation of effective and talented entertainment, media and intellectual property lawyers.
8. LL.M. Fellowship
In conjunction with the family of Jose Siderman and Argentina’s Fulbright Commission, Southwestern also offers the Jose Siderman-Fulbright Human Rights Fellowship. This program, aiming to promote the training of young Argentine lawyers in civil liberties and human rights, is offered to one law graduate from Argentina per year and is based on their academic ability, fluency in English, and potential for furthering human rights and social justice in Argentina and beyond.
Southwestern has ties not only with Argentina but also around the world, giving foreign students the chance to learn at Southwestern, travel, develop their skills, and support surrounding communities. The Harvey L. and Lillian Silbert Public Interest Fellowship Program gives selected students the chance to work and gain legal experience at non-for-profit organizations. The School’s partnership with Jindal Global Law School in India is also extremely beneficial; an International Property student, for example, can kick-off their studies in India, before finishing with Cyber Law in California. The cost of living in India’s National Capital Region is much lower than the U.S. – and the majority of course credits are also transferrable.
Not only do these partnerships present students with a new learning experience and perspective; they also promote connections and support within local and global communities.
In the heart of Los Angeles, just minutes from LA live, the Staples Center and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and within half an hour’s drive of Sunset Strip and Venice boardwalk, Southwestern’s campus is perfectly placed in terms of culture and recreational activities. Not only that, but LA’s buzzing metropolitan vibe draws residents from more than 140 countries, making it home to diversity and a way of life independent of the rest of the U.S. Finally, with its thriving atmosphere and distinctive lifestyle, as well as its intriguing law cases, from celebrity trials to corporate scandals and beyond, LA encompasses a wealth of opportunities and stimuli for aspiring lawyers.
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Above all, Southwestern Law School is not general but specific, enabling students to pick out things they’re passionate about, to understand how they can make a difference, to learn from others, and come out the other side ready to make a positive change in the fast-paced world we live in.