Hastings has a unique relationship with the University of California. In 1878, when Supreme Court of California Justice Serranus Clinton Hastings gave $100,000 to the University of California to start the law school bearing his name, he imposed two conditions: the school must remain in San Francisco near the courts; and it could not be governed by the Regents of the University of California. Thus the school's leader (who holds the dual titles of chancellor and dean) must obtain funds directly from the California State Legislature, unlike other UC institutions, which receive money from the Regents. In a commencement address, Hastings called his school "a temple of law and intellect, which shall never perish, until, in the lapse of time, civilization shall cease, and this fair portion of our country shall be destroyed or become a desert."
In 1900, it became one of 27 charter members of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).
Hastings College of the Law was for many years considered the primary law school of the University of California with the purpose of preparing lawyers for the practice of law in the state, whereas the Department of Legal Jurisprudence on the Berkeley campus, which later became Boalt Hall School of Law (now styled Berkeley Law), was intended for the study of law as an academic discipline.
In the 1960s, Hastings began the "65 Club," the practice of hiring faculty who had been forced into mandatory retirement at age 65 from Ivy League and other élite institutions. After the passage of age discrimination laws, however, the "65 Club" slowly phased out, and Hastings hired its last "65 Club" professor in 1998. In the mid-1950s, Newsweek published a story where then Harvard Law School dean and jurist Roscoe Pound declared, referring to UC Hastings: "Indeed, on the whole, I am inclined to think you have the strongest law faculty in the nation."
UC Hastings campus spreads among three main buildings located near San Francisco's Civic Center: 200 McAllister Street houses academic space and administrative offices, 198 McAllister contains mainly classrooms and faculty offices, and 100 McAllister (known casually as "The Tower") is student housing
The campus is within walking distance of the Muni Metro and Bay Area Rapid Transit Civic Center/UN Plaza station. UC Hastings is commonly but affectionately derided by students and alums as being located in the ugliest corner of the most beautiful city in the world. Indeed, the school has been referred to in jest as "UC Tenderloin."
Located within a two-block radius of the campus is the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the California Supreme Court, the California Court of Appeal for the First District, San Francisco Superior Court, San Francisco City Hall, United Nations Plaza (and Federal Building Annex), the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Main Library of the San Francisco Public Library system. The heavy concentration of public buildings within the Civic Center, as well as the high crime rate, result in heavy police presence, and high security, around UC Hastings.
UC Hastings is managed by a nine-member Board of Directors. The UC Hastings Board of Directors exists independently of, and is not controlled by, the Regents of the University of California. Pursuant to California law, eight of the directors are appointed by the Governor of California. Pursuant to the UC Hastings constitutive documents, the ninth director must be a direct lineal descendant of UC Hastings founder Clinton Serranus Hastings. The Hastings family member now serving on the board is Claes H. Lewenhaupt.
UC Hastings' detachment from the UC Regents gives it a broad degree of independence in shaping educational and fiscal policies; however, due to a shrinking California education budget, Hastings must also compete for limited educational funds against its fellow UC campuses. Despite the apparent competition among the UC law schools, Hastings was able to maintain its traditionally high standards without having to decrease class size or raise tuition to higher levels than fellow UC law schools, until the California budget crisis in June 2009, first raised the possibility of slashing $10 million in state funding.
A few days later, however, lawmakers rejected the harsh budget cut, agreeing to cut only $1 million and apparently preventing dramatic tuition hikes.
Under California law, if the government ever cuts funding to Hastings to below the 19th-century figure of $7,000 a year, the state must return the $100,000, plus interest, to the Hastings family. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has argued that the rejected $10 million budget cut, in abandoning state financial support for the school, would have allowed the Hastings family to launch an expensive court fight to reclaim the $100,000 plus hefty interest.
Hastings offers a three-year Juris Doctor program with concentrated studies available in seven areas: civil litigation, criminal law, international law, public interest law, taxation, family law, and recently, a new concentration in intellectual property law. Most J.D. students follow a traditional three-year plan. During the first year, students take required courses as well as one elective course. In the second and third years, students may take any course or substitute or supplement their courses with judicial externships or internships, judicial clinics, or study abroad. The college also offers a one-year LL.M. degree in U.S. legal studies for students holding law degrees from foreign law programs. It is an American Bar Association (ABA) approved law school since 1939.
Hastings participates in the Concurrent Degree Program with U.C. Berkeley's Haas Graduate School of Business. Upon completion of a four-year program, the student earns a Berkeley M.B.A. degree and a J.D. degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.
UC Hastings College of the Law and UCSF Medical School have commenced a joint degree program, and in 2011 began enrolling their first class of graduate students in the Master of Studies in Law (MSL) and LL.M. in Law, Science and Health Policy programs. Students have coursework available at each institution for fulfillment of the degrees. This program is a component of the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy.
A joint program, the first of its kind in the University of California system, enables UC Santa Cruz students to earn an undergraduate and law degree in six years instead of the usual seven. The “3+3 BA/JD” Program between UC Santa Cruz and UC Hastings admitted its first applicants in Fall 2014.
UCSC students who declare their intent in their freshman or early sophomore year will complete three years at UCSC and then move on to UC Hastings to begin the three-year law curriculum. Credits from the first year of law school will count toward a student's bachelor's degree. Students who successfully complete the first-year law course work will receive their bachelor's degree, graduate with their UCSC class, then continue at UC Hastings for the final two years of law study.
UC Hastings 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 joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) as a charter member in 1900; it renewed its membership in 1949.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at UC Hastings for the 2014–2015 academic year is $71,247 for California residents and $77,247 for non-residents. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $296,028.
According to UC Hastings official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 41.6% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners. UC Hastings Law School Transparency under-employment score is 47.2%, 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.
U.S. News & World Report ranks Hastings 50th among top law schools in the US and as the most diverse of the five law schools in the UC system. It was listed with a "B+" in the March 2011 "Diversity Honor Roll" by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students. UC Hastings also has the largest student body and student/faculty ratio of the UC law schools.
In January 2011, UC Hastings was given a "B" in the "Best Public Interest Law Schools" listing by The National Jurist: The Magazine for Law Students.
In 2009, Super Lawyers magazine ranked UC Hastings 11th in terms of law schools that produced the most "Super Lawyers".
According to Brian Leiter's law school rankings, Hastings ranks 27th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty, on par with USC. In terms of student quality, Hastings ranks 33rd in the nation by average LSAT score.
According to the Web site "Law School Advocacy," UC Hastings had the No. 1 Moot Court program in the country in 2011, with Top 5 rankings in each of the last five years.
A 2013 article in Forbes Magazine ranks Hastings 20th among 'The 25 Law Schools Whose Grads Earn The Most'.
In 2014, 68% of Hastings Law graduates taking the test for the first time passed the California State Bar.
The oldest law journal at UC Hastings is the Hastings Law Journal, which was founded in 1949. The second oldest journal is the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, which was founded in 1973. Inaugurated in 1997 to oversee the growing number of publications at UC Hastings, the O'Brien Center for Scholarly Publications now manages the publication of the nine UC Hastings journals.Hastings Law Journal
Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal
Hastings Women's Law Journal
Hastings International and Comparative Law Review
Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal
West-Northwest Journal of Environmental Law and Policy
Hastings Science & Technology Law Journal
Hastings Business Law Journal
The O'Brien Center at UC Hastings has published several books:Forgive Us Our Press Passes, by Daniel Schorr
The Traynor Reader: Essays, by the Honorable Roger Traynor.
Hastings College of the Law – The First Century, a centennial history of the UC Hastings commissioned by the UC Hastings Board in 1973
Dick Ackerman (1967) – California State Senate Republican Leader
Jeff Adachi (1985) – the Public Defender of San Francisco
Jeffrey Amestoy (1972) – Former Chief Justice of The Vermont Supreme Court
Nestor Barrero (1984) – Former Vice President and Employment Counsel for NBCUniversal
Marvin Baxter (1966) – Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
Joseph T. Bockrath – Professor of Law at LSU Law Center
Michael Bradbury (1967) – former District Attorney of Ventura County, California
Lloyd Braun (1983) – former media executive with Yahoo!, former chairman of the American Broadcasting Company Entertainment group
Matthew Broad (1984) – Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Darden Restaurants (Former Exec. VP and General Counsel for OfficeMax Incorporated)
Willie Brown (1958) – former Speaker of the California State Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco
Melvin Brunetti (1964) – Senior Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Richard Bryan (1963) – former U.S. Senator and Governor of Nevada
Cynthia Bryant (1995) – former Director and Chief Deputy Director, Policy of the California Department of Finance, former Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ed Case (1981) – U.S. Congressman from Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District
Suzanne Case (1983) – Chairperson, Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources, former Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Hawai'i
Rachelle Chong (1984) – former FCC Commissioner, former Commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission, former General Counsel for Sidecar
James M. Cole (1979) – Special Counsel to the House Ethics Committee investigating Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and current United States Deputy Attorney General
Carol Corrigan (1975) – Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California
Joseph Cotchett (1964) – Founding Partner of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, Attorney for Valerie Plame and the NFL, named "Titan of the Plaintiff's Bar" by Law360
Bill Dannemeyer (1952) – U.S. Congressman from California's 39th Congressional District (Orange County)
Christopher Darden (1980) – prosecutor in O.J. Simpson trial
Sanford Diller (1927) – American real estate developer
Scott Drexel (1975) – former Chief Prosecutor, State Bar of California
Sidney M. Ehrman (1897) – Co-Founder and Named Partner of former international law firm Heller Ehrman LLP
Sean Elsbernd (2000) – Member, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, 2004–2013
Clair Engle (1933) – U.S. Senator from California
Sam Fernandez (1980) – Senior Vice President and General Counsel for The Los Angeles Dodgers
Sean Faircloth (1986) – Majority Whip Maine House, Executive Director Secular Coalition for America
Clara Shortridge Foltz (1881) – first practicing female lawyer in the United States
Philip Kan Gotanda (1978) – playwright
Abby Ginzberg (1975) – documentary filmmaker
Karla Gray (1976) – former Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court
Amanda Grove (1990) – former Court TV anchor
Terence Hallinan (1964) – San Francisco District Attorney
Kamala Harris (1990) – U.S. Senator of California and former California Attorney General and San Francisco District Attorney
Emanuel S. Heller (1889) – Founder and Named Partner of former international law firm Heller Ehrman LLP
Bob Hertzberg (1979) – former Speaker of the California State Assembly and Los Angeles mayoral candidate
William Robert Holcomb (1950) – longest serving Mayor of San Bernardino, California
Michael Huttner (1995) – progressive activist and founder of ProgressNow
Vicki Iovine (1980) – Playboy Playmate, author
Gregg Jarrett (1980) – Anchor, Fox News Channel
Nick Jones (2007) – Grandson of "Deep Throat" Mark Felt, responsible for coordinating revelation of Deep Throat's identity to the media
Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson – Founder of Shakey's Pizza
Christine la Barraque – first blind woman admitted to the bar in California
Otto Lee (1994) – Mayor of Sunnyvale
Frank D.G. Madison (1892) – Named Partner of Pillsbury Madison and Sutro, now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
John Matta (1977) – CEO of Wizard World and former Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Warner Bros. Studios
Wiley Manuel (1953) – Justice California Supreme Court and first African American California Supreme Court Justice
Robert Matsui (1966) – U.S. Congressman from California's 5th Congressional District (Sacramento)
Edward J. McCutchen (1879) – Founder and Named Partner of former international law firm Bingham McCutchen LLP (formerly McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen)
Rodney Melville – California Judge, notable for presiding over the People v. Jackson case
Thomas Mesereau (1979) – Criminal defense attorney with celebrity client list, including Michael Jackson and Robert Blake
Nicholas G. Moore (1967) – Chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Alexander Morrison (1881) – Founder of the international law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP (also member of UC Hasting's first graduating class)
George Moscone (1957) – Mayor of San Francisco assassinated in 1978
Paula A. Nakayama (1979) – Associate Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court
Andrew Downey Orrick (1947) – former Acting Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and son of William Horsley Orrick, Sr. of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Charles (Chip) Pashayan (1968) – U.S. Congressman from 1979 to 1991 for California's 17th Congressional District
Horace Davis Pillsbury (1896) – GC & President, Pacific Bell; Son of Evans Searle Pillsbury of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Richard W. Pollack – Associate Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court
Mario R. Ramil (1975) – Associate Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court
George R. Roberts (1969) – co-founder of Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts Company
Robert Rigsby (1986) - Associate Justice of the D.C. Superior Court, former Attorney General for the District of Columbia, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Army Colonel, Bronze Star Recipient, former JAG and Military Judge
James David Santini (1962) – U.S. Congressman from Nevada
Kevin Shelley (1980) – 28th California Secretary of State
Douglas W. Shorenstein, real estate developer and former chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Jackie Speier (1976) – U.S. Congresswoman
Todd Spitzer (1989) – California State Assemblyman
J. Christopher Stevens (1989) former U.S. Ambassador to Libya
Alfred Sutro (1894) – Named Partner of Pillsbury Madison and Sutro, now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Timothy Tau (2007) – fiction writer and filmmaker
Nancy Tellem (1979) – Entertainment and Digital Media President of Microsoft and former CBS Entertainment President
Richard Thalheimer (1974) – founder and CEO of The Sharper Image
Tom Umberg (1980) – California State Assemblyman
Ann Veneman (1976) – 27th U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Executive Director of UNICEF
Michael Wood (1979) – former CEO and founder of LeapFrog Enterprises
Some of the current tenured Hastings faculty include:Joseph Grodin
Some of the notable former faculty includeMiguel de Capriles
Some of the members of the UC Hastings Sixty-Five Club includeArthur Goldberg, Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
William Prosser, Torts
Rudolf Schlesinger, International & Comparative Law
Julius Stone, Jurisprudence & International Law
Roger Traynor, Former California Supreme Court Justice
Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case, arose from events at UC Hastings in 2003.