Founded in 1924, California Western School of Law (popularly known as California Western or Cal Western) is a private, non-profit law school located in San Diego, California. The school was accredited by the American Bar Association in 1962 and became a member of the Association of American Law Schools in 1967. It is the oldest law school in San Diego. California Western is home to both the Southern California and Hawaii "Innocence Projects." Its International Law Journal is among the oldest in the nation.
According to "Bestlawschools.com," California Western is considered to be among the "top 25" law schools for sports and entertainment law.
In 2007 California Western School of Law Professor, Justin Brooks, was named one of California's Top 100 Attorneys by the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Brooks was one of only four law professors in the state of California selected and one of only six lawyers – and the only criminal lawyer – from San Diego on the list.
This institution is not, and has never been, associated with or related in any way to California Coast University of Santa Ana, California, which had called itself "California Western University" from 1973 - 1981.
California Western was originally chartered in 1924 by Leland Ghent Stanford as a private graduate institution called Balboa Law College, the first law school in San Diego. His brother, Dwight Stanford, served as one of the first deans. Leland Ghent Stanford is not related to the founder of Stanford University, Leland Stanford, although he did attend Stanford, where he earned undergraduate and law degrees, and also M.A. and Ph.D degrees in Government Administration. Balboa Law College expanded to include undergraduate and other graduate studies and changed its name to Balboa University. The law school at Balboa University was closed in 1946.
In 1952, Balboa University became affiliated with the Southern California Methodist Conference, changed its name to California Western University, and relocated to Point Loma. The law school was reopened in downtown. In 1960, the law school had 6 full-time faculty and 23 students. In that year, it re-located to Rohr Hall at Point Loma. It received accreditation from the American Bar Association in 1962.
In 1968, California Western University changed its name to United States International University (USIU). The law school retained the name California Western. USIU moved to Scripps Ranch. Point Loma Nazarene University currently occupies the Point Loma site. In 2001, USIU merged with California School of Professional Psychology to become Alliant International University.
In 1973, the law school relocated from its Point Loma location to the current downtown campus at 350 Cedar Street. In 1975, California Western ended its affiliation with USIU and became an independent secular law school. In 1980, the new trimester system was announced, allowing two entering classes in one academic year, reducing individual class size and allowing students to graduate in two years rather than the standard three.
In 1993, the law school opened a new administrative and campus center at 225 Cedar Street, housing faculty and administration offices, including student affairs and financial aid.
The current Dean, Steven R. Smith, joined the law school in 1996. In January, 2000, California Western opened a new Law Library building at 290 Cedar Street, which was dedicated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
California Western and University of California San Diego offer a joint Master's of Advanced Studies degree in Health Law.
California Western also offers the Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in Trial Advocacy with a Specialization in Federal Criminal Law as well as an M.C.L./LL.M for foreign law students.
Its research centers include:
California Western's areas of concentration provide a rigorous academic experience in the following areas: