Puneet Varma (Editor)

UC Berkeley School of Law

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Parent endowment
$3.33 billion (2013)

USNWR ranking


School type

+1 510-642-6483

Total enrollment
1,050 (2010)

Fiat lux (Latin)

Parent school
University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California, U.S.

119 (Full- and part-time)

Boalt Hall, 215 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Undergraduate tuition and fees
Local tuition: 44,244 USD (2010), Domestic tuition: 52,245 USD (2010)

Notable alumni
Earl Warren, Theodore Olson, Dean Rusk, Thelton Henderson, Rose Bird

University of California, Stanford Law School, University of California, UCLA School of Law, Harvard Law School


The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, commonly referred to as Berkeley Law and Boalt Hall, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley Law is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the nation, with acceptance rates lower than every school except Yale and Stanford. The law school has produced leaders in law, government, and society, including Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, Secretary of State of the United States Dean Rusk, Attorney General of the United States Edwin Meese, United States Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the Federal Reserve G. William Miller, Solicitor General of the United States Theodore Olson, and lead litigator of the Korematsu v. United States civil rights case, Dale Minami.



The Department of Jurisprudence was founded at Berkeley in 1894. In 1912, the department was renamed the School of Jurisprudence, it was again renamed as the School of Law in 1950.

The School was originally located in the center of the main UC Berkeley campus in the Boalt Memorial Hall of Law, which was built in 1911 with funds largely from Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt donated in memory of her late husband, John Henry Boalt, an attorney who had resided in Oakland, California until his death in 1901. In 1951, the School moved to its current location in the new Boalt Hall, at the southeast corner of the campus, and the old Boalt Hall was renamed Durant Hall.

In April 2008, the law school rebranded itself, through a change of name from "Boalt Hall" to "Berkeley Law" to tie the law school's name more closely with the campus upon which it resides. The administration hopes that this will improve the law school's name recognition since people already know of UC Berkeley and that it has a law school but are often confused by the use of 'Boalt Hall'.


Boalt Hall has approximately 850 J.D. students, 200 students in the LL.M. and J.S.D. programs, and 45 students in the Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. The School also features specialized curricular programs in Business, Law and Economics, Comparative Legal Studies, Environmental Law, International Legal Studies, Law and Technology, and Social Justice.

The JD program's admissions process is highly selective. Berkeley Law is known to value high undergraduate GPAs. Consequently, Berkeley has the 9th highest 75th percentile GPA. According to U.S. News and World Report, Berkeley has the 12th lowest acceptance rate among U.S. law schools, with about 25% of applicants admitted. For the class entering in the fall of 2016, 1,328 out of 5,336 applicants (24.9%) were offered admission, with 301 matriculating. The 25th and 75th LSAT percentiles for the 2016 entering class were 163 and 169, respectively, with a median of 166. The 25th and 75th undergraduate GPA percentiles were 3.65 and 3.89, respectively, with a median of 3.79.

Boalt's grading system for the JD program is unusual among law schools. Students are graded on a High Honors (HH), Honors (H), and Pass (P) scale. Approximately 60% of the students in each class receive a grade of Pass, 30% receive a grade of Honors, and the highest 10% receive a grade of High Honors; lower grades of Substandard Pass (or Pass Conditional, abbreviated PC) and No Credit (NC) may be awarded at the discretion of professors. The top student in each class or section receives the Jurisprudence Award, while the second-place student receives the Prosser Prize.

For a typical class in the JD program, the average age of admitted students is 24 years old, over a range of ages from 20 to 48 years old. Berkeley Law's tuition has increased in recent years. Currently, tuition and fees are $48,703 per year (in-state) and $52,654 per year (out-of-state). Most out-of-state students may claim in-state status in their second year of study.

The faculty of Berkeley Law also provide academic direction and the bulk of the instruction for the undergraduate program in Legal Studies, which is organized as a major in Letters and Science. The Legal Studies program is not intended as a pre-law program, but rather as a liberal arts program "that can encourage sustained reflection on fundamental values."

Berkeley Law has a chapter of the Order of the Coif, a national law school honorary society founded for the purposes of encouraging legal scholarship and advancing the ethical standards of the legal profession.

It is an American Bar Association approved law school since 1923. It joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1912.

Boalt Hall offers combined degree programs with other schools at the University of California, as well as MA degrees from Tufts University and Harvard University.


In recent years, US News & World Report has ranked Berkeley Law as high as 6th and low as 12th in the United States.

According to Brian Leiter's Law School rankings, Boalt ranks 7th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty. In terms of student numerical quality, Boalt ranks 14th in the nation.

According to The Daily Journal, 15 of the top 100 lawyers in California are Boalt alumni. Law and Politics' Super Lawyers magazine ranks Berkeley as #9 in the country, just above Yale Law based on the amount of Super Lawyers it produces. 890 alumni are in their list of the top 5% of peer rated attorneys for 2009.

It is listed as "A" (#5) in the January 2011 "Best Public Interest Law Schools" ratings by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.

In 2017, US News and World Report ranked Berkeley 12th in their overall law school rankings of all law schools in the U.S. Berkeley is particularly renowned for Environmental Law, including land use, sustainable development, natural resources, energy, and real estate law. US News and World Report ranked Berkeley as the 4th best law school in the U.S. for Environmental Law, and it is the only top ten law school to also be in the top ten for Environmental Law. They also ranked the school 9th in the nation for International Law programs, and first in the nation for Intellectual Property Law.

According to the 2016 QS World Rankings for law school, UC Berkeley is ranked as the fourth-best law school in U.S and ninth in the world.

Bar passage rates

Based on a 2001–2007 6 year average, 88.1% of Berkeley Law graduates passed the California State Bar.

Post-graduation employment

According to Berkeley's official ABA-required disclosures, 96% of the Class of 2014 obtained full-time, long-term, bar admission-required employment nine months after graduation. Boalt Hall's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 7.6%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Berkeley Law for the 2016-2017 academic year is $79,228.50 for California residents and $83,179.50 for non-residents. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $254,955 for residents and $268,476 for non-residents.

Centers at Berkeley Law

  • Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice (est. 2006)
  • Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (est. 1996)
  • Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy (est. 2004)
  • California Constitution Center – Berkeley Law
  • Center for Clinical Education (est. 1998)
  • Center for Law, Energy & the Environment
  • Center for the Study of Law and Society (est. 1961)
  • Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity
  • Death Penalty Clinic (est. 2001)
  • Institute for Global Challenges and the Law
  • Institute for Legal Research (formerly the Earl Warren Legal Institute) (est. 1963)
  • International Human Rights Law Clinic (est. 1998)
  • Kadish Center for Morality, Law and Public Affairs (est. 2000)
  • Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance (est. 1994)
  • Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic (est. 2000)
  • Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice (est. 1999)
  • Law journals at Berkeley Law

  • Asian American Law Journal
  • Berkeley Business Law Journal
  • Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy
  • Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law
  • Berkeley Journal of Entertainment & Sports Law
  • Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice
  • Berkeley Journal of International Law
  • Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law
  • Berkeley La Raza Law Journal
  • Berkeley Technology Law Journal
  • Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law
  • California Law Review
  • Ecology Law Quarterly
  • Alumni

    (Listed by year of graduation)

  • Earl Warren, 1914 – Governor of California, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
  • Hugh S. Johnson, 1916, Administrator of the National Recovery Administration (1933–1934) during the Great Depression
  • Walter Gordon, 1922 – first All-American at UC Berkeley, first African American graduate of Boalt Hall, Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, Federal District Judge.
  • Roger J. Traynor, 1927 – Chief Justice, California Supreme Court, 1964–1970
  • Bernard E. Witkin 1928 – expert of California law and founder of the Witkin law treatise sets
  • Melvin Belli, 1929 – attorney known as The King of Torts
  • John Gabbert, 1934 – Associate Justice, California Court of Appeals
  • Dean Rusk, 1940 – United States Secretary of State, 1961–1969
  • William Horsley Orrick, Jr., 1941 – United States District Judge
  • John Michael Doar (LL.B. 1949) – Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights from 1960 to 1967, during the civil rights years of the administrations of presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He led the government's response in events such as the admission and protection of James Meredith as the first black student to the University of Mississippi, as well as the evolving response to the civil rights movement promoting integration and voter registration in the South.
  • Harry Pregerson, 1950 – Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • G. William Miller, 1952 – U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  • Allen Broussard, 1953 – Associate Justice, California Supreme Court, 1981–1991
  • Merrill Kenneth Albert, 1955 – noted lawyer and author
  • Jess Jackson, 1955 – attorney in the '70s; founder of Kendall–Jackson Wines
  • J. Clifford Wallace, 1955 – Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Cruz Reynoso, 1958 – Associate Justice, California Supreme Court, 1982–1987
  • Edwin Meese III, 1958 – former U.S. Attorney General
  • Senior Chief Judge Lloyd D. George, 1961 – Federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Nevada in the US Courts.
  • Pete Wilson, 1962 – former U.S. Senator, Governor of California
  • Thelton Henderson, 1962 – Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Kathryn M. Werdegar, 1962 – Associate Justice, California Supreme Court, 1994–present
  • William B. Shubb, 1963 – Senior Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of the U.S. Courts.
  • Rose Bird, 1965 – Chief Justice, California Supreme Court, 1977–1987
  • Howard Lincoln, 1965 – Chairman and CEO of the Seattle Mariners; former chairman of Nintendo of America
  • Theodore Olson, 1965 – U.S. Solicitor General, 2001–2004
  • Michael Tigar, 1966 – noted criminal defense and human rights lawyer, and Professor Emeritus, Duke University School of Law
  • Larry W. Sonsini, 1966 – Chairman of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
  • Neil Goldschmidt, 1967 – U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Governor of Oregon
  • David B. Frohnmayer, 1967 – Oregon Attorney General, University of Oregon President
  • Robert K. Tanenbaum, 1968 – novelist and former Mayor of Beverly Hills, CA
  • Judge Lawrence R. Leavitt, 1969 – Magistrate Judge in the District of Nevada, a division of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of the U.S. Courts system.
  • Dale Minami, 1971 – leader of legal team that overturned the wrongful conviction of Fred Korematsu
  • Michael H. Posner, 1972 – Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) of the United States
  • Marsha S. Berzon, 1973 – Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • John L. Burris, 1973 – civil rights attorney
  • Leigh Steinberg, 1973 – sports agent
  • Peter Welch, 1973 – Congressman (D-Vermont) (2006–)
  • Richard Delgado, 1974 – Professor at University of Pittsburgh School of Law and expert in civil rights law and critical race theory
  • Barry Scheck, 1974 – co-founder of the Innocence Project
  • Christopher Schroeder, 1974 – Professor at Duke University School of Law
  • Claudia Wilken, 1975 – Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Lance Ito, 1975 – California Superior Court judge, presided over O.J. Simpson criminal trial
  • Zoë Baird, 1977 – Bill Clinton's first unsuccessful nominee for attorney general in 1993.
  • David M. Louie, 1977 – Attorney General of Hawaii
  • André Bertrand, 1978 – French attorney, successful author of many treatises in the area of Intellectual Property
  • Ed Lee, 1978 – First Chinese-American Mayor of San Francisco
  • George B. Daniels, 1978 – Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (2000–)
  • Joan Donoghue, 1981 – Judge, International Court of Justice
  • Frederick Hertz, 1981 – notable San Francisco Bay attorney
  • William S. Price III, 1981 – co-founder, Texas Pacific Group
  • Richard G. Andrews, 1981 – Judge, United States District Court for the District of Delaware
  • Paul Krekorian, 1984 – California State Assemblyman and former Member of Burbank, CA Board of Education and City Council
  • Melinda Haag,1987 – United States Attorney for the Northern District of California (2010–)
  • Mark Anchor Albert, 1988 – noted lawyer, philanthropist, impresario, and lay Catholic leader; member of LA Archdiocese defense team during clergy sex abuse scandal
  • Kevin Quinn, S.J., 1988 – Jesuit, law professor, President of the University of Scranton since 2011
  • Jeff Bleich, 1989 – United States Ambassador to Australia, 2009–2013
  • Jon S. Tigar, 1989 – Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Jonathan Shapiro - award-winning TV writer and producer of Boston Legal, The Practice and creator of the TV show Goliath
  • David Kappos, 1990 – former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of US Patent and Trademark Office
  • Amul Roger Thapar, 1994 – Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (2008–)
  • Miranda Du, 1994 – Judge, United States District Court for the District of Nevada
  • Greg Genske, 1998 – Executive Director, President, and the Lead Negotiator of The Legacy Agency's baseball division
  • Craig Walker, 1995 – founder of Grandcentral, Yahoo! Voice, Entrepreneur-in-residence at Google Ventures
  • Anthony Ishii – Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
  • Anna Pauline (Pauli) Murray, MA of Laws – civil rights activist, women's rights activist, lawyer, and writer; first black woman ordained as an Episcopalian priest
  • Reynato S. Puno, MA of Laws – Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines
  • Larry Hillblom – Co-Founder of DHL Express
  • Nicole Wong – Deputy White House Chief Privacy Officer
  • Lea Brilmayer – Howard M. Holtzmann Professor of International Law at Yale Law School
  • Faculty

  • Stephen Barnett (1935–2009), legal scholar who opposed the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970
  • Bob Berring – law librarian
  • Robert Cooter – scholar in Law and Economics
  • Maria Echaveste – former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton
  • Christopher Edley, Jr. – Dean of Boalt Hall (2004–); co-founder of The Civil Rights Project formerly at Harvard University.
  • Aaron Edlin – Richard W. Jennings '39 Endowed Chair since 2005
  • Melvin A. Eisenberg – author Contracts casebook and chief reporter for the Principles of Corporate Governance, issued by the American Law Institute
  • William A. Fletcher – Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Andrew T. Guzman – Scholar in International Law and International Trade Law
  • Phillip E. Johnson – professor of law and developer of intelligent design
  • Herma Hill Kay – former Dean of the School of Law (1992–2000); Prominent leader in establishing no fault divorce laws.
  • Hans Kelsen – jurist
  • Goodwin Liu – constitutional law professor, associate dean, and former unsuccessful nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Associate Justice, California Supreme Court (2011–present).
  • John T. Noonan, Jr. – Senior Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • William L. Prosser – former Dean of the School of Law (1948–1961), author of several treatises and pioneer in the field of strict products liability
  • Pamela Samuelson – intellectual property law expert
  • Sho Sato – first Japanese American law professor at a major American law school
  • Paul M. Schwartz – Information Privacy Law Expert
  • Howard Shelanski, head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
  • Sarah Song – professor of law and political science
  • Eleanor Swift – led the establishment of Boalt's Center for Clinical Education, which brings clients in need of legal advice to Boalt, where students and faculty provide counsel.
  • John Yoo – former deputy assistant Attorney General and author of controversial (and subsequently withdrawn) Justice Department memoranda relating to Presidential wartime authority.
  • Sujit Choudhry – former dean of the school of law, Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law
  • Sandy Cohen, a character on the popular television series The O.C., is a lawyer and a Boalt Hall alumnus. "The O.C. at Boalt" is a student group that, in addition to screening episodes of The O.C. during the lunch period, offers the Sandy Cohen Fellowship, a summer grant for students who plan to work as public defenders (on The O.C., Sandy Cohen worked as a public defender while living in Orange County). In recent years, "The O.C. at Boalt" has also managed to bring Peter Gallagher, the actor who plays Sandy Cohen, to Boalt to speak on an annual basis.
  • Matthew Perry played a Republican graduate of Boalt Hall on multiple episodes of The West Wing.
  • Kelly Rutherford played lawyer Samantha 'Sonny' Liston, a graduate of Boalt Hall, on E-Ring.
  • Joanie Caucus, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, attended Boalt Hall.
  • In Catch Me if You Can, Martin Sheen plays Roger Strong, the District Attorney of New Orleans and a Boalt Hall alumnus.
  • Mike Daly, protagonist of the bestselling Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels by Sheldon Siegel, is a Boalt Hall graduate and, together with his wife, taught there for about a year.
  • In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, a copy of the California Law Review is featured prominently on a table in the senior partner's office.
  • Judy Carrier, a major continuing character in Lisa Scottoline's novels about Rosato & Assoc – an all-female law firm in Philadelphia, received her degree froam Boalt Hall and is a very bright legal scholar.
  • Pete Harrison, played by Bradley Whitford, was the leading role in the hit show "Trophy Wife", and was a Berkeley Law graduate. He dons a Berkeley Law sweatshirt in the first season.
  • References

    UC Berkeley School of Law Wikipedia

    Similar Topics