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About Thomas Jefferson School Of Law

Thomas Jefferson School of Law was founded in 1969 to provide an opportunity to obtain a legal education for those facing obstacles that would otherwise prevent them from achieving their dream of becoming a lawyer. This mission required the law school to embrace several distinctive features, including flexible scheduling, affordable tuition, a supportive environment for a diverse community of traditional and nontraditional students, and a holistic admissions policy that considered applicants in their entirety.

The law school was meeting several important needs in our society and it became an immediate success, earning accreditation from the California Committee of Bar Examiners in 1973 and accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 1976. As the law school grew, the faculty placed ever increasing emphasis on enriching the academic program, to provide a broader range of opportunities to our students.

Today, Thomas Jefferson is unique. While other law schools share some similarities with us, no law school offers the carefully crafted combination of features that have made Thomas Jefferson a fixture in the San Diego legal community for more than 50 years.

Here are some of the features that make us who we are:

Online and residential programs: Although most of our students are enrolled in our residential program in San Diego, more than a third of the entering students in recent classes have enrolled in our asynchronous online program that enables them to study on their own schedule. Students in both programs must meet the same requirements and they earn exactly the same degree. (Students in the online program must be residents in one of nine states: CA, CO, FL, HI, MD, NH, NV, and TX.)

Flexible Scheduling: In addition to having the choice of enrolling in the online or residential programs, students may attend full-time or part-time, take residential classes in the day or evening, and start in the summer, fall, or spring. Students may also accelerate graduation and earn their degree in as little as two and a half years.

Location in San Diego: Thomas Jefferson occupies a new, modern campus in downtown San Diego, in the heart of the legal community. San Diego is America’s eighth largest city, offering all the professional, social, recreational, and cultural benefits of a cosmopolitan coastal community and boasts what many consider to be the best climate in the continental United States. San Diego is situated in California, the fifth largest economy in the world, providing lawyers with opportunities in almost every area of practice.

Successful Alumni: Thomas Jefferson has graduated more than 7000 alumni, including a former U.S. Congressman, numerous federal and state judges, state legislators, law firm partners, leaders in the business and nonprofit worlds, and the former San Diego District Attorney as well as the former San Diego Public Defender. Thomas Jefferson’s alumni can provide its students with mentorship, job opportunities, and even lifelong friendships.

Affordable Tuition: Thomas Jefferson’s tuition generally is about half the cost of attending an ABA-approved Southern California law school, saving our students tens of thousands of dollars.

Distinguished Faculty: Our educational program has been designed by full-time faculty members who were trained at the finest law schools in the nation, such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. They have worked for the White House, the International Criminal Court, the Justice Department, State Department, and major law firms. Courses are typically taught by experienced practitioners teaching in their specialization.

Holistic Admissions Policy: Students may apply with either an LSAT score or a GRE score and they may apply with an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Our admissions committee takes account of each student’s entire life experience and not just his or her college grades and test scores.

Diverse Student Body: We believe that the discussions and relationships that spring from bringing diverse perspectives together in one place enrich us all in lasting ways and that learning from and working with others from a rich array of backgrounds is critical to becoming an effective lawyer in an increasingly globalized society. Diversity, of course, includes many dimensions: race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, marital status, veteran status, disability, and more. We have long welcomed students from every part of our society. For example, students of color consistently comprise more than 50% of our student body, as do women.

Supportive Environment: Every student is assigned a faculty mentor to provide guidance throughout his or her law school career. Classes are small, averaging 24 students in required courses and even fewer in electives, allowing individual attention to students. Students also receive individualized assistance in preparing for the bar exam.

Opportunity to Represent Real Clients: Our on-campus clinics and our externship programs in law offices around San Diego enable students to represent real clients while still in law school. Students can also hone their skills on Law Review, Moot Court, Mock Trial, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Teams.

Exciting Specializations: Although law students do not need to specialize in a particular area and most do not, for those who are interested in a specialization, we offer fellowship programs in two very exciting areas of the law: Criminal Law and Intellectual Property, Entertainment & Sports Law. Every year, we sponsor the National Sports Law Negotiation Competition, in which teams from all over the United States compete on our campus.

Summer Study Abroad Program on the French Riviera: Our summer program enables students to take classes for three weeks in the beautiful city of Nice, on the French Riviera, returning early enough to take a summer job or enroll in summer classes, if they wish. Many count this as one of the most memorable experiences of their law school career.

Our Mission Statement

The mission of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is to provide a strong, flexible, and affordable legal education in our online and residential programs, both full-time and part-time, for a diverse community of traditional and nontraditional students, in a collegial and supportive environment, enabling committed students to join our thousands of successful alumni as members of the legal profession.