Southwestern Law School is a private, non-profit, secular, independent law school. Inspired by a sense of social responsibility, Southwestern was founded in 1911 with a mission to provide access to legal education for those historically underrepresented persons who were otherwise excluded from law school. Ever since, Southwestern has earned a reputation for public service, innovative programming, and trailblazing alumni.  Our community is intellectually vibrant, with faculty who are committed to teaching and who are highly productive scholars and leaders on the local, state, and national levels.

Our beautiful mid-city campus provides the ideal setting for law study, fostering an emphasis on community, diversity, and engagement.  Situated at the heart of the entertainment industry, Southwestern is home to the nationally acclaimed Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute.  Our emphasis on experiential learning through the Institute, skills courses, and robust clinical and externship opportunities produces practice-ready graduates.  Our alumni number 14,000 strong across the country and are inspired advocates who are versatile and entrepreneurial.

From its first day, Southwestern actively encouraged the enrollment of women and people of color. Our first graduate was Betty Trier Berry, who became the first woman in the United States to serve in a public defender’s office—before women were permitted to vote in federal elections.

We proudly celebrate many firsts including:

  • First female Public Defender in the United States
  • First female African-American appellate justice in the United States
  • First female African-American judge in California
  • First Native American judge in California
  • First Latina judge in California
  • First Chinese American federal district court judge in the continental United States
  • First and only African-American mayor of Los Angeles
  • First and only Armenian-American District Attorney in the United States

Southwestern’s innovative, flexible programs also allow non-traditional students (advanced degree holders, working professionals, single parents, and persons responsible for family elder care) to enroll and succeed in law school and in legal practice.

100+ Years and Still Rising

Southwestern never rests on its laurels. We strive for continuing growth, resilience, and excellence.  Los Angeles and its adjacent counties contain a crowded and competitive law school landscape.  Notwithstanding the challenges to claim its deserved place among a dense field, Southwestern continues to trend upward.

Southwestern’s U.S. News & World Report general ranking has increased 15 spots over the past two reporting periods.  Our law school is recognized as a best/top school for Advocacy/Litigation, Family Law, Human Rights, International Law, IP Law, and Practical Training (preLaw Magazine, 2020).

Curricular Innovation is in our DNA

Southwestern’s curriculum is pioneering.  Our two-year accelerated J.D. program, which combines theory with practice, was the first ABA-accredited program of its kind and has been thriving since 1975.  We institutionalized the first ABA-approved part-time day program in the country in 1981, and we were only the second law school to receive a variance from the ABA for a 50/50 campus/distance hybrid program.  Despite being an independent law school, we have forged a partnership with the prestigious Claremont Colleges to offer a joint J.D./MBA degree.  Our current part-time evening program was reimagined two years ago to blend in-residence and best practices distance education.

Dean and Chief Executive Officer

The Dean/CEO reports to the Board of Trustees and is Southwestern’s chief academic and executive officer. The Dean/CEO is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the law school including academic affairs, administration, strategic planning, financial management, and fundraising.

The ideal candidate for Dean/CEO possesses:

  • A distinguished educational background and a record of scholarship
  • A demonstrated capacity for strategic leadership, evidence-based decision making, and curricular vision and innovation
  • The ability to build relationships, inspire enthusiasm, cultivate and maintain key constituencies, and attract strategic partners
  • Exceptional fundraising skills
  • The ability to inspire and support our community of scholars and teachers
  • Experience in public or private practice
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility

Those seeking to join Southwestern’s mission as its next Dean/CEO should submit their application packages (including CV/resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information for eight references) to Senior Associate Dean Doreen Heyer at SWlawdeansearch@swlaw.edu. Nominations, inquiries, and applications will be kept strictly confidential. The confidential review of materials will begin immediately and continue until an appointment is made.

Southwestern Law School does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender (including identity and expression), disability, age, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law in its hiring, programs, and activities, and encourages applications from those drawn to our mission, our passion, and our community, especially women, minorities, people of color, veterans, the disabled, and LGBTQ+.

Southwestern Law School is approved by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

Virtual tours and additional information available at www.swlaw.edu