Since its founding 100 years ago, Southwestern has been at the vanguard of legal education reform. It was one of the original proponents in Southern California of the Harvard case method of instruction, and was among the first schools to recruit actively women and minorities. It was also one of a very few schools to offer a two-year, accelerated J.D. and a part-time day program designed for students with child care responsibilities.  It created the nation’s first Entertainment and Media Law Institute in a law school.

This commitment to innovation continues today, inspired in large part by the Carnegie study’s three-apprentice model. Southwestern is committed to teaching its students skills they will encounter early on in their legal careers. Southwestern offers a three-track legal writing program to push beyond the typical appellate advocacy exercise.  First-year students may choose from three focus areas: Appellate Advocacy, Negotiation, or Trial Practice. Southwestern also offers third-year capstone courses, allowing students to specialize and become practice-ready, and Windows into Practice coursesteach students the essentials of law firm practice and practice management. The school also has broad clinical offerings and one of the country’s largest externship programs. Recognizing the benefits of interdisciplinary learning, Southwestern offers a concurrent-degree program with the Drucker Graduate School of Management, part of Claremont Graduate University, so that students can earn a J.D. and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Finally, Southwestern currently hosts the Journal of Legal Education and from that vantage point participates in shaping continuing debates about legal education.