Southwestern Law School
Academics & Programs: Large, private, and independent Southwestern Law School boasts an “emphasis on practical skills” and an impressive array of bells and whistles. In addition to your standard full-time day and part-time evening programs, there’s a very intensive two-year program that features small classes and integrates plenty of real-world training. There’s also a part-time day program that helps nontraditional students juggle the demands of work, family, and school. A “broad” and “ever-increasing” range of courses includes summer law programs in Argentina, Canada, England, and Mexico. Clinics are available in immigration law, street law, and children’s rights. “The externships are amazing and very available to all class ranks.” There’s a JD/MBA program allied with the Drucker Graduate School of Management. If you are interested in entertainment and media law, Southwestern is home to a huge contingent of professors who specialize in that area, and the school maintains impressive connections “within the entertainment industry.” Another perk is Southwestern’s unique “three-track approach” to legal writing. As a 1L, you can choose from specialized writing programs in trial practice, negotiation, or appellate advocacy. While Southwestern sort of exists in the shadow of other law schools in the local area with national reputations, students tell us that they are happy with their employment prospects. Career Services has “tons of resources,” they say, and Southwestern has a “huge alumni network,” “especially in the Los Angeles area.”
The faculty is composed of “an array of ages, ethnicities, and eccentricities.” There are “some really outstanding teachers” here “who could not be more dedicated to their craft,” and the faculty as a whole is “helpful and accommodating.” They “genuinely care about your success in law school.” “They are engaging and really care about what each student takes away from their class,” explains a 3L. “The school is attempting to teach us to be good lawyers,” explains a 1L, “with less emphasis on maintaining the ‘hide-the-ball’ pedagogy of the Socratic Method.” There’s the stray “incompetent” prof here, though, and some of the older ones are “standard fare.” “Most professors are available to students on a regular basis” once class ends. “I was surprised by the support from teachers and access to them outside of the classroom,” reports a 1L. “This institution is committed to a student-first ideology.” Some students say that the administration “treats everyone like an individual, not just another customer.” Others say that there is “too much bureaucracy, in all aspects.”
Campus Life/Facilities: The facilities at Southwestern are within easy commuting distance to the downtown district of Los Angeles. Students say they are “world-class.” The crown jewel is a legendary, enormous, and very distinctive Art Deco building. It used to be a fancy department store and now it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “The administration clearly takes pride in the campus upkeep.” “Everything is new and high-tech.” Classrooms are “really nice.” “The library is beautiful and basically kicks the ass out of the other law school libraries in Los Angeles,” pronounces a 1L. There are also ample study areas, terraces with sweeping city views, and a gigantic fitness center for student use.
By all accounts, diversity is “great” at Southwestern in every way. Students come here from pretty much every state and all walks of life. Ethnic minorities constitute about a third of the population. Roughly two-thirds of the students have either previous work experience or some kind of advanced degree already. The academic atmosphere is “very professional and collegiate.” “It’s very cooperatively competitive,” explains a 3L. “Everyone wants to do better than the next person but is always willing to help the next person out.” “There’s a lot of mentoring that goes on at Southwestern” between 1Ls and upper-division students as well.
Southwestern’s campus is “an oasis in seedy Koreatown.” Some students contend that social life is pretty dismal. “There is a social disconnect at the school,” laments a 1L. “Clubs are not really active and there is a commuter atmosphere.” Other students strongly disagree. According to them, Southwestern is “very social.” “Everyone is friendly with each other, which has made for a pleasant experience,” declares a 3L. “I’ve created some bonds with certain students that I will cherish forever.” Whatever the case, the inexhaustible sprawl of the metropolitan Los Angeles area offers something for every taste and predilection imaginable.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.