Introduction to Thomas Jefferson School of Law


Thomas Jefferson School of Law is an independent, fully ABA-approved, AALS member law school located in the heart of San Diego, California. The Law School enrolls more than 600 diverse and engaged students from across the nation and throughout the world in its J.D., LL.M., J.S.M, and J.S.D. programs.  The Law School offers full-time, part-time, day, evening, and robust online programs, as well as a joint J.D.-M.B.A. program in collaboration with San Diego State University. The dynamic, diverse, and highly productive faculty includes more than 30 full-time, tenured or tenure-track Professors, long-term contract Professors of Lawyering, as well as a substantial pool of experienced, talented adjunct professors.

The Law School is home to five Academic Centers (the Center for Law and Social Justice, the Center for Global Legal Studies, the Center for Law and Intellectual Property, the Center for Criminal Law and Policy, and the Center for Sports Law and Policy), three clinical programs (the Veterans Legal Assistance Clinic, the Small Business Law Center, and the Mediation Program), three student fellowship programs (the Intellectual Property Fellowship Program, the Criminal Law Fellowship Program, and the Sports Law Fellowship Program), two summer study abroad programs (in Nice, France and Hangzhou, China), a nationally ranked field placement program, and the Center for Solo Practitioners (supporting new graduates as they enter the practice of law). Since the spring of 2011, the Law School has occupied a new, technologically advanced, eight-story, 177,000 square foot, state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable facility in the East Village area of downtown San Diego. The building is designed for learning, featuring smart classrooms and integrated video conferencing.


Thomas Jefferson School of Law is committed to providing an outstanding legal education—one that prepares the school’s graduates to provide highly effective and professionally responsible service to their clients and communities. The Law School seeks to promote in students a deep integration of substantive legal knowledge, practical legal skills, ethical awareness, and critical thinking; the curriculum aims to equip students with the strong foundation in problem-solving, oral and written communication, legal research and analysis, and self-assessment necessary to succeed as effective and ethical members of the legal profession.

To this end, the Law School offers an intellectually rich and stimulating academic program, taught by a distinguished and uniquely accessible faculty in a highly supportive atmosphere. Faculty members emphasize extensive individual feedback and frequent collaborative, interactive dialogue, and practical learning opportunities. The academic program includes a balanced, comprehensive curriculum that prepares graduates for practice in any area of the law, as well as ample opportunities to specialize in diverse practice areas (including intellectual property, criminal law, international law, and law and social justice). Recognizing that the public’s unmet need for affordable legal services continues to grow and that opportunities for post-graduate training through the big-firm model have become increasingly inaccessible, the Law School endeavors to prepare students to meet society’s legal needs through cost-effective and ethical representation, particularly in the small firm and solo practice environments that many graduates will enter.


The talented student body brings a wealth of academic and life experience to the Law School. Nearly half of the students in our recent incoming class come from outside of California. They include graduates from 120 different undergraduate institutions, with majors including accounting, biology, civil engineering, English, and legal studies. Many were leaders in their communities, schools, and workplaces, and bring a deep commitment to community service and leadership to the Law School.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law is deeply committed to providing opportunities to traditionally disadvantaged students and communities, and the student body is therefore highly diverse. Students in the most recent entering class were born in twenty-six different countries. Of these students, sixty-eight percent are students of color, thirty-nine percent speak at least one language in addition to English, three percent self-identify as GLBT, and eight percent are active duty, reserve, or veteran status military personnel. Fifty-seven percent of the entering class are women, ranging in age from twenty-one to forty-seven.

Upon graduation, many of our students go to work for law firms (large and small), enter government service, join non-profit organizations, or pursue solo practice. Each year, a number of graduates return to their communities to provide much-needed legal services. Our alumni include a member of Congress, federal judges, state and local judges, the District Attorney of San Diego, and the Public Defender of San Diego, among other distinguished positions. Our rapidly growing, vibrant, and active alumni network now includes approximately 6000 attorneys and serves as a resource and inspiration for our graduates and a foundation for the Law School’s work.


The diverse, dynamic faculty of Thomas Jefferson School of Law is characterized by its deep commitment to teaching and scholarship.

The faculty’s passion for teaching is reflected in consistently high rankings by students on faculty accessibility and expertise, with students especially appreciating the faculty’s commitment to early and frequent individualized feedback, embrace of diverse and engaging teaching technologies and methods, and open-door policy. The Law School’s faculty culture supports and encourages excellence in teaching, emphasizing teaching experience and potential in the hiring process, giving significant weight to teaching performance in tenure and promotion, providing formal and informal teaching mentorship to junior faculty, and involving all faculty in a continuous dialogue about pedagogical theory, best practices, and the ever-evolving needs and expectations of our students. Faculty members include recognized experts in pedagogy, and the Law School’s cutting-edge classroom technology enables creative teachers to engage students using a diverse array of media and classroom methods.

The faculty is equally committed to contributing to the public discourse about national and international law and social policy through high-quality legal scholarship. The Law School’s more than thirty professors are established and emerging experts in fields as diverse as international law and trade, pedagogy, intellectual property, criminal law, and gender and the law. The faculty is highly prolific, having published more than 70 books and 600 articles. The quality of the faculty’s scholarship is reflected in its regular citation by litigators, courts, and other scholars; the many invitations that professors receive to speak at conferences throughout the world; and placement and download rankings in the Social Science Research Network and the Roger Williams Faculty Productivity rankings that are well above our U.S. News institutional ranking.

The faculty is also committed to serving the academic, legal and broader communities. Faculty members are leaders in national and local academic and professional organizations, including the ABA and AALS, as well as members of ALI. They serve the community as appointees to important government and nonprofit positions and as expert commentators in multiple media outlets. Each year, the Law School hosts dozens of top academics and thought-provoking conferences on diverse, cutting-edge legal issues. Its annual Women and the Law Conference, the first west of the Mississippi to focus on gender and the law issues, highlights the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecture Series, one of only two lecture series in the world that bears Justice Ginsburg’s name.

The faculty also reflects the Law School’s commitment to diversity in legal education and the legal profession. The school has long ranked among the top law schools in the number and proportion of female tenured and tenure-track professors. The faculty includes members of racial or ethnic minority groups, and several identify as part of the LGBT community.


The East Village area of downtown San Diego is also a diverse and thriving community, offering both professional and recreational opportunities. The campus is located next to the new San Diego Central Library and just a few blocks from Petco Park and the vibrant Gaslamp District. The state and federal courthouses as well as downtown law firms are nearby. Public transportation in the form of the San Diego Trolley goes virtually to the door of the Law School, while easy freeway access allows for travel to the other San Diego communities. The East Village neighborhood features a variety of shops, restaurants, art galleries, and hotels. It is close to Balboa Park as well as many of San Diego’s best beaches. San Diego’s world-renowned theaters are also nearby. Thomas Jefferson School of Law is an eager participant in many neighborhood events, ranging from hosting mayoral candidate debates to hosting booths at entrepreneurial and art fairs. The activities of the Law School strengthen its ties to the local community.


Thomas Jefferson School of Law offers numerous strengths as it continues to progress as an ambitious institution.  The student body is exceptionally diverse, energetic, and entrepreneurial.  Many alumni have taken leading roles in federal and state government, legal practice, and business. Many faculty members have become well-known experts in their fields, and many have taken important leadership roles in the profession and the academy. In the last fifteen years, the Law School has developed an array of advanced degree programs and joint degree programs, and is at the forefront in developing on-line learning alternatives. At the same time, the Law School has added multiple new clinical programs, a nationally ranked field placement program, several Fellowship programs, and two study-abroad programs. The school occupies a state-of-the-art educational facility and a substantial student housing property in a vibrant community, offering a wealth of opportunities for institutional growth and collaboration.

These strengths provide the foundation for the next era in the Law School’s development. With strong students, accomplished alumni, a high-quality faculty, a diverse and comprehensive educational program, and an outstanding educational facility, the Law School is well-situated to engage the opportunities and challenges facing the legal profession and the academy now and in the years to come. Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s administration, faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees are innovators and builders who have consistently worked to expand and develop the institution and who are highly motivated to maintain the Law School’s momentum and trajectory. We look forward to working with the next President and Dean as we enter a new phase in the continued progress of the Law School.

Download a short Introduction to the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.