History

Thomas Jefferson Signature

Thomas Jefferson would be proud of the law school that bears his name. The ideals of this towering figure in American history help to inspire our mission and purpose.

 

Thomas Jefferson School of Law was founded in 1969 as the San Diego campus of the Western State University College of Law, a privately owned institution in Orange County, California.

 

Located in Downtown San Diego, our law school began as a part-time program designed for working professionals who could attend only evening classes and soon began attracting local students who wanted to attend law school full-time. In 1983 we moved from our downtown campus to a new, much larger three-story facility on San Diego Avenue in historic and colorful Old Town San Diego.

 

We became Thomas Jefferson School of Law in late 1995 and we were granted provisional American Bar Association* (ABA) accreditation in August 1996, just seven months after applying. Full ABA accreditation was granted in August 2001 and the law school became a private, non-profit institution the same year.

 

Thomas Jefferson School of Law has evolved into an innovative, cutting-edge law school, devoted to the individual needs and success of the student. We are now a nationally-known law school with students from across the United States and around the world. We still serve the needs of working professionals with a part-time program of evening classes, in addition to our full-time program.

 

The newest chapter of TJSL’s history includes the construction of an ultra-modern, high-tech campus in Downtown San Diego’s East Village, close to the heart of the city’s legal community. The first classes in the new facility were held in January 2011.

 

We have a world-class faculty with excellent experience and credentials, many from top ten law schools. Our faculty is prolific in its publication of important scholarly works, including more than 550 scholarly articles and books collectively.

 

Our legal curriculum offers outstanding preparation for the practice of law. It includes four Centers for Academic Excellence: The Center for Global Legal Studies, The Center for Law and Intellectual Property, The Center for Law and Social Justice, and The Center for Sports Law and Policy. All four centers have achieved prominence in their fields, expanding student opportunities through certificate programs, conferences, and timely speaker programs.

 

Thomas Jefferson School of Law also offers three LL.M. (Master of Laws) degrees as well as a joint MBA-JD degree in partnership with San Diego State University.

 

We also have achieved prominence in legal areas such as intellectual property, international law, and computer & internet law, to name a few. Our legal writing program was rated among the top 30 in the nation in 2007 and 2008 by U.S. News & World Report, our Moot Court and Mock Trial teams have won many prestigious competitions that included teams from top law schools, and our Law Review has been cited in many prominent legal journals and court decisions. 

 

Thomas Jefferson is home to the annual Women and the Law Conference and the Ruth Bader Ginsberg Lecture Series. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been a frequent lecturer at the law school in constitutional law. The law school offers several clinical programs, including the Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, where Thomas Jefferson students provide legal services to homeless veterans, and the Small Business Law Center. The law school offers two summer study abroad programs where students study in Nice, France or the People’s Republic of China. 

 

Thomas Jefferson’s many distinguished alumni include San Diego County’s District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who serves on the California State Bar Associations Board of Governors; Public Defender Henry Coker; many San Diego Superior Court judges; prominent San Diego attorneys; and other high-profile figures such as a former U.S. congressman and a former state legislator.

 

The future of Thomas Jefferson School of Law will be defined by the continuing innovation and excellence of its faculty, alumni and students. We will continue to provide a solid, practice-oriented, legal education that also offers opportunities to shape the rapidly-evolving new legal issues which will define the practice of law in the years to come.

 

We will always strive to produce lawyers who defend and uphold the highest ideals of our law school’s namesake, Thomas Jefferson.

 

* ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar
321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312.988.6738
Fax: 312.988.5681
legaled@americanbar.org