UC Berkeley School of Law

The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (commonly known as Boalt Hall, Berkeley Law, or UC Berkeley School of Law) is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley Law is consistently ranked as one of the top public law schools in the United States and one of the top law schools in the world.[4] In 2018, 89% of graduates obtained full-time jobs within ten months; the school's bar passage rate in 2017 was 90.9%.[5]

University of California, Berkeley School of Law
MottoFiat lux (Latin); Let there be light (English)
Parent schoolUniversity of California, Berkeley
School typePublic
Parent endowment$4.3 billion (2017)[3]
DeanErwin Chemerinsky
LocationBerkeley, California, U.S.
Faculty119 (Full- and part-time)[1]
USNWR ranking10th[1]
Bar pass rate92% (ABA profile)

The law school has produced a number of 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 Boalt Memorial Hall of Law,[6] which was built in 1911 partially with funds 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 law building, the instructional portion of which was named 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[7] 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 hoped that this would improve the law school's national and international 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'.[8][9]


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 2017, 1,266 out of 5,466 applicants (23.1%) were offered admission, with 303 matriculating. The 25th and 75th Law School Admission Test (LSAT) percentiles for the 2017 entering class were 164 and 168, respectively, with a median of 166. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.66 and 3.88, respectively, with a median of 3.79.[10]

Berkeley Law's grading system for the J.D. program is unusual among law schools but similar to the grading system used at Yale Law School. 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.[11]

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."[12]

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.[13]

It is an American Bar Association approved law school since 1923.[14] It joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1912.[15]

Berkeley Law offers combined degree programs with other schools at the University of California, as well as MA degrees from Tufts University and Harvard University.[16]


In 2018, QS World Rankings ranked Berkeley Law as the 7th best law school in the world.[17] Law.com ranked Berkeley as one of the top 10 go-to law schools.[18][19].

In 2019, U.S. News & World Report ranked Berkeley Law as the 10th best law school in the United States, tied with Duke and Northwestern.[20] US News & World Report also ranked Berkeley Law as the best law school in the U.S. for intellectual property,[21] the 3rd best for environmental law,[22] and the 10th best for international law.[23] Moreover, US News & World Report ranked Berkeley Law's clinical training program as 10th best in the U.S.[24]

Berkeley Law's flagship law review, the California Law Review, is ranked 7th in the U.S.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27] 890 alumni are in their list of the top 5% of peer rated attorneys for 2009.

Bar passage rates

In July 2018, Berkeley Law's bar passage rate for the California Bar Exam was 86 percent, the second-best in California.[28]

Post-graduation employment

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.[29]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Berkeley Law for the 2018-2019 academic year is $85,315 for California residents and $89,266 for non-residents.[30] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $282,442 for residents and $296,694 for non-residents.[31]

Centers at Berkeley Law

  • 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

Noted people


(Listed by year of graduation)


  • Billy McBride, the attorney protagonist of the Amazon series Goliath played by Billy Bob Thornton (and which Thornton won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama for portraying) is a Berkeley Law alumnus. In Season 3, Episode 4, "Full Circle", McBride goes through a box of law school mementos that include a page-flagged Constitutional Law casebook and a folded-up piece of paper with the words "Boalt Hall" on it. Also in Season 2, Episode 1, "La Mano", a "University of California" diploma can be seen hanging from the wall of McBride's makeshift office (that operates out of a room in the Ocean Lodge Hotel). By the process of elimination, this is a law degree diploma because in the pilot (Season 1, Episode 1, "Of Mice and Men"), McBride mentions he "went to college", and graduated with an undergraduate degree from Indiana University (where he also played baseball). The series creator Jonathan Shapiro is a Berkeley Law alumnus as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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