UC Berkeley School of Law

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University of California, Berkeley School of Law
UC Berkeley School of Law logo.svg
Motto Fiat lux (Latin)
Parent school University of California, Berkeley
Established 1894[1][2]
School type Public
Parent endowment $3.33 billion (2013)[3]
Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Location Berkeley, California, U.S.
Enrollment 916[1]
Faculty 119 (Full- and part-time)[1]
USNWR ranking 9[1]
Bar pass rate 92% (ABA profile)
Website law.berkeley.edu

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, commonly called Berkeley Law and Boalt Hall, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley Law is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the world.[4] The law school has produced leaders in law, government, and society, including Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk, United States Attorney General Edwin Meese, United States Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Federal Reserve G. William Miller, Solicitor General of the United States Theodore Olson, and lead litigator of the Korematsu v. United States civil rights case, Dale Minami.


The Department of Jurisprudence was founded at Berkeley in 1894. In 1912, the department was renamed the School of Jurisprudence, it was again renamed as the School of Law in 1950.

The School was originally located in the center of the main UC Berkeley campus in the Boalt Memorial Hall of Law,[5] which was built in 1911 with funds largely from Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt donated in memory of her late husband, John Henry Boalt, an attorney who had resided in Oakland, California until his death in 1901. In 1951, the School moved to its current location in the new Boalt Hall, at the southeast corner of the campus, and the old Boalt Hall was renamed Durant Hall.

In April 2008, the law school rebranded itself at the cost of $25,000,[6] through a change of name from "Boalt Hall" to "Berkeley Law" to tie the law school's name more closely with the campus upon which it resides. The administration hopes that this will improve the law school's name recognition since people already know of UC Berkeley and that it has a law school but are often confused by the use of 'Boalt Hall'.[7][8]


Boalt Hall's law library was expanded in 1996 with the North Addition, pictured above.

Berkeley Law has approximately 850 J.D. students, 200 students in the LL.M. and J.S.D. programs, and 45 students in the Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. The School also features specialized curricular programs in Business, Law and Economics, Comparative Legal Studies, Environmental Law, International Legal Studies, Law and Technology, and Social Justice.

The J.D. program's admissions process is highly selective. Berkeley Law is known to value high undergraduate GPAs. Consequently, Berkeley has the 9th highest 75th percentile GPA. According to U.S. News and World Report, Berkeley has the 12th lowest acceptance rate among U.S. law schools, with about 25% of applicants admitted. For the class entering in the fall of 2016, 1,328 out of 5,336 applicants (24.9%) were offered admission, with 301 matriculating. The 25th and 75th Law School Admission Test (LSAT) percentiles for the 2016 entering class were 163 and 169, respectively, with a median of 166. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.65 and 3.89, respectively, with a median of 3.79.[9]

Boalt's grading system for the J.D. program is unusual among law schools. Students are graded on a High Honors (HH), Honors (H), and Pass (P) scale. Approximately 60% of the students in each class receive a grade of Pass, 30% receive a grade of Honors, and the highest 10% receive a grade of High Honors; lower grades of Substandard Pass (or Pass Conditional, abbreviated PC) and No Credit (NC) may be awarded at the discretion of professors. The top student in each class or section receives the Jurisprudence Award, while the second-place student receives the Prosser Prize.

For a typical class in the J.D. program, the average age of admitted students is 24 years old, over a range of ages from 20 to 48 years old. Berkeley Law's tuition has increased in recent years. Currently, tuition and fees are $49,364 per year (in-state) and $53,315 per year (out-of-state). Most out-of-state students may claim in-state status in their second year of study.[10]

The faculty of Berkeley Law also provide academic direction and the bulk of the instruction for the undergraduate program in Legal Studies, which is organized as a major in Letters and Science. The Legal Studies program is not intended as a pre-law program, but rather as a liberal arts program "that can encourage sustained reflection on fundamental values."[11]

Berkeley Law has a chapter of the Order of the Coif, a national law school honorary society founded for the purposes of encouraging legal scholarship and advancing the ethical standards of the legal profession.[12]

It is an American Bar Association approved law school since 1923.[13] It joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1912.[14]

Boalt Hall offers combined degree programs with other schools at the University of California, as well as MA degrees from Tufts University and Harvard University.[15]


In 2018, QS World Rankings ranked Berkeley Law as the 7th best law school in the world.[16] Law.com ranked Berkeley as one of the top 10 go-to law schools.[17][18].

In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked Berkeley Law as the 9th best law school in the United States.[19] US News & World Report also ranked Berkeley Law as the best law school in the U.S. for intellectual property,[20] the 3rd best for environmental law,[21] and the 10th best for international law.[22] Moreover, US News & World Report ranked Berkeley Law's clinical training program as 10th best in the U.S.[23].

Berkeley Law's flagship law review, the California Law Review, is ranked 7th in the U.S.[24]

According to Brian Leiter's 2012 scholarly impact study, Berkeley Law ranks 7th in terms of scholarly impact as measured by the percentage of tenured faculty represented in specific specialty areas.[25]

In 2010, Law and Politics "Super Lawyers" magazine ranked Berkeley as 9th in the country, just above Yale Law based on the number of Super Lawyers it produces.[26] 890 alumni are in their list of the top 5% of peer rated attorneys for 2009.

Bar passage rates[edit]

In July 2017, Berkeley Law's bar passage was 89 percent, the second-best in California.[27]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

According to Berkeley's official ABA-required disclosures, 95.76 percent of 2016 graduates obtained full-time, long-term, bar admission-required employment nine months after graduation, and 1.21 percent were enrolled in a full-time degree program.[28]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Berkeley Law for the 2016-2017 academic year is $79,228.50 for California residents and $83,179.50 for non-residents.[29] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $254,955 for residents and $268,476 for non-residents.[30]

Centers at Berkeley Law[edit]

A view of San Francisco and the Bay from Boalt Hall.
  • Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice (est. 2018)
  • Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (est. 2006)
  • Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (est. 1996)
  • Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy (est. 2004)
  • California Constitution Center — Berkeley Law
  • Center for Clinical Education (est. 1998)
  • Center for Law, Energy & the Environment
  • Center for the Study of Law and Society (est. 1961)
  • Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity
  • Death Penalty Clinic (est. 2001)
  • Institute for Global Challenges and the Law
  • Institute for Legal Research (formerly the Earl Warren Legal Institute) (est. 1963)
  • International Human Rights Law Clinic (est. 1998)
  • Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs (est. 2000)
  • Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance (est. 1994)
  • Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic (est. 2000)
  • Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice (est. 1999)

Law journals at Berkeley Law[edit]

Noted people[edit]


(Listed by year of graduation)


Boalt Hall in popular culture[edit]

  • Sandy Cohen, a character on the popular television series The O.C., is a lawyer and a Boalt Hall alumnus. "The O.C. at Boalt" is a student group that, in addition to screening episodes of The O.C. during the lunch period, offers the Sandy Cohen Fellowship, a summer grant for students who plan to work as public defenders (on The O.C., Sandy Cohen worked as a public defender while living in Orange County). In recent years, "The O.C. at Boalt" has also managed to bring Peter Gallagher, the actor who plays Sandy Cohen, to Boalt to speak on an annual basis.
  • Matthew Perry played a Republican graduate of Boalt Hall on multiple episodes of The West Wing.
  • Kelly Rutherford played lawyer Samantha "Sonny" Liston, a graduate of Boalt Hall, on E-Ring.
  • Joanie Caucus, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, attended Boalt Hall.
  • In Catch Me If You Can, Martin Sheen plays Roger Strong, the District Attorney of New Orleans and a Boalt Hall alumnus.
  • Mike Daly, protagonist of the bestselling Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels by Sheldon Siegel, is a Boalt Hall graduate and, together with his wife, taught there for about a year.
  • In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, a copy of the California Law Review is featured prominently on a table in the senior partner's office.
  • Judy Carrier, a major continuing character in Lisa Scottoline's novels about Rosato & Assoc. — an all-female law firm in Philadelphia, received her degree froam Boalt Hall and is a very bright legal scholar.
  • Pete Harrison, played by Bradley Whitford, was the leading role in the hit show "Trophy Wife", and was a Berkeley Law graduate. He dons a Berkeley Law sweatshirt in the first season.


  1. ^ a b c d "Best Law Schools". U.S. News & World Report. 
  2. ^ "U.S. News & World Report, Best Law Schools: University of California — Berkeley". Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Annual Endowment Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013; p.4" (PDF). Chief Investment Officer of the Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 2013-11-30. 
  4. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
  5. ^ http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/archives_exhibits/online_exhibits/romapacifica/partv_jgeda309.html
  6. ^ http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/UC-Berkeley-dropping-Boalt-Hall-from-law-school-s-2519014.php
  7. ^ Tanya Schevitz, UC Berkeley dropping Boalt Hall from law school's official name, San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 2007.
  8. ^ Berkeley Law/ Boalt Hall / Naming Convention, Christopher Edley, Jr., Dean of Berkeley Law
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ https://www.law.berkeley.edu/admissions/jd/financial-aid/fees-cost-of-attendance/
  11. ^ Order of the Coif member schools
  12. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ AALS Member Schools
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/2018/law-legal-studies
  16. ^ https://abovethelaw.com/2018/03/the-best-law-schools-for-getting-a-biglaw-job-2018/
  17. ^ https://www.law.com/sites/almstaff/2018/03/08/the-2018-go-to-law-schools/?et=&bu=&cn=&src=&pt=&slreturn=20180228140634
  18. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/law-rankings
  19. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/intellectual-property-law-rankings
  20. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/environmental-law-rankings
  21. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/international-law-rankings
  22. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/clinical-training-rankings
  23. ^ http://bcnewell.com/meta-ranking-of-flagship-us-law-reviews-2018/
  24. ^ http://www.leiterrankings.com/faculty/2014_scholarlyimpact.shtml
  25. ^ Top Law Schools: 2010 Super Lawyers U.S. Law School Rankings. Superlawyers.com. Retrieved on 2014-06-17.
  26. ^ https://abovethelaw.com/2017/12/a-breakdown-of-california-bar-exam-results-by-law-school-july-2017/
  27. ^ "Employment Statistics". 
  28. ^ "Fees and Cost of Attendance". 
  29. ^ "LST Estimated Costs". 
  30. ^ Gordon, Walter; et al. (1976–1979). "An Interview With Walter Gordon". Athlete, Officer in Law Enforcement and Administration, Governor of the Virgin Islands: oral history transcript / Walter Gordon (Interview). 1–2. Interviewed by Anne Hus Brower; Caryn Prince; Rosemary Levenson; Amelia R. Fry. Berkeley, California: Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  31. ^ Grimes, William. "Stephen Barnett, a Leading Legal Scholar, Dies at 73", The New York Times, October 21, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2009.
  32. ^ Bishop, Katherine. "Sweet Victory for Feminist Pioneer at Law School." The New York Times, 3 April 1992, sec. A, p. 19
  33. ^ Howard Mintz, Goodwin Liu Confirmed to California Supreme Court, San Jose Mercury News (Sept. 1, 2011, 8:41 a.m.), http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_18798616
  34. ^ "Biography of Professor Sho Sato". UC Berkeley School of Law. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  35. ^ "Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001" (PDF). United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2009-03-02. 
  36. ^ "October 23, 2001 OLC Opinion Addressing the Domestic Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities" (PDF). United States Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2009-03-02. ]
  37. ^ "Indian-origin scholar Sujit Choudhry becomes dean of top US law school". 2 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°52′11″N 122°15′12″W / 37.86986°N 122.25339°W / 37.86986; -122.25339