The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, referred to as Berkeley Law and Boalt Hall, is ranked one of the top law schools in the country. Esteemed alumni include Chief Justice Earl Warren and Attorney General of the United States Edwin Meese.
Berkeley is known for its commitment to providing a high quality legal education in a “supportive learning environment.” The school discourages competition by fostering collegiality amongst students not only through their unique non-letter grading system but by also encouraging social gatherings. In fact, students are known to have “bar review” every Thursday night where they congregate and relax at a local drinking hole. Moreover, providing a supportive environment extends not only to its students but to the community as well. It should come as no surprise that while “[s]ome schools have a pro bono requirement; at Berkeley Law, [they] have a pro bono culture.”
Located in the Northern California just east of San Francisco, Berkeley offers an energetic and exciting place to attend law school. Steeped in history and culture, students can debate legal topics right across the street at Caffe Strata, get a slice of pizza on the go at Blondie’s, root for the Bears at Memorial Stadium, catch a concert at The Greek or enjoy a relaxing hike in Tilden Park. And don’t forget, San Francisco is a short Bart ride away.
Come Fall, between 260-280 students begin their first year of law school at Berkeley. Those 1Ls are further broken down into nine modules of about 30 students each. During their first semester, students will take a 12 person Legal Writing and Research course, one smaller core course of about 30 and two courses that are about 90-100 students in size. Despite the relatively large class sizes, within the small sections, professors “seek to interact extensively with students and generally have their students over for dinner at their home.” This 30 person “module” provides an opportunity for students to get to know each other and their course professor better.
Berkeley offers eight areas of specialized study, including Business and Start-Ups, Law and Technology and Environmental Law – each of which offer certification programs. Berkeley is perhaps best known for its expertise in the area of intellectual property law. Not to be overlooked, however, are the school’s other renown areas of study including its environmental law program. One of the first programs in this field, Berkeley Law offers an interdisciplinary approach to environmental law with opportunities to take classes in other graduate schools. Moreover, Environmental Law students can participate in the Ecology Law Quarterly, one of the nation’s preeminent law journals.
Another unique feature of this law school is that it does not give out traditional grades. Rather, students are given High Honors (10%), Honors (30%) or Passes (60%) in all their classes (very rarely do students receive No Credit or Substandard Pass).
Clinical and Experiential Learning
Berkeley offers students the ability to gain hands-on experience in 13 clinics – eight in the community and five in the law school. Students can also gain practical knowledge through three practicums.
Moreover, as early as in the first semester, students have the opportunity to participate in Student-Initiated Legal Services Projects which provide pro bono services to the community.
Beyond the school’s building, Berkeley also places students with judges, government agencies and public interest firms for a semester through their Field Placement Program. Field placement opportunities are available both domestically and internationally.
Class Size: 304
Average Age: 24
Students of color: 42%
Median LSAT: 167 (low 164, high 168)
Median GPA: 3.79 (low 3.66, high 3.88)
- Law Firms: 59.81%
- Judicial Clerkships: 15.82%
- Business & Industry: 2.85%
- Government/Public Interest: 20.57%
- Education: 0.32%
- Military: 0.63%
- Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: 13.3%
- Central: 2.8%
- South Atlantic/Central: 12.7%
- Mountain/Pacific: 70.9%
- U.S. Territories/Foreign: 0.3%