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Santa Clara University School of Law

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Santa Clara University School of Law
Location Santa Clara, CA, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
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Santa Clara University School of Law is located in Santa Clara, CA

SCU Law School's Bergin Hall

The Santa Clara University School of Law is a private, non-profit law school located in Santa Clara, California. It was founded in 1912 as a part of Santa Clara University, and is known for its diverse student body and excellent reputations in high tech and public service law. In fact, its high tech program is one of the top in the nation.

As part of a Jesuit Catholic university, the school strives to uphold a commitment to ethics and service of the community. To this effect, the school promotes social justice through the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center, the Northern California Innocence Project, and other public service programs.


The Institute of Law was formed in 1911 under the guidance of Santa Clara College President James Morrissey and offered classes in the evening. In 1929, the school had five faculty members and began offering classes in the daytime. The school did not operate during World War II, but resumed admitting students in the late 1940's. Through the next decade, enrollment remained low with graduating classes often under twenty students.

The 1960s brought growth in enrollment, faculty, and physical space to the law school. The Law Review was founded in 1961, and a new law library, named after Edwin Heafey, was constructed soon afterward. By the end of the decade, there were over 150 students enrolled. Growth continued through the 1970s and 1980s, and the school approached its current size of 1,000 students. Law facilities were further expanded with the construction of Bannan Hall in 1973 and additions to the law library in 1973 and 1988.

In the 1990's, under Deans Gerald Uelmen and Mack Player, the school’s nationally ranked High Tech Law Institute was formed and an increased emphasis has been placed on international programs and international law. During this time, the school emerged into the second tier in the US News rankings.

Currently, under Dean Donald Polden, the school is amid a successful capital campaign to raise funds for programs, scholarships, professors, and new space.

Statement of Purpose

"Santa Clara University School of Law will excel in preparing its students to meet the challenges of a legal profession that is increasingly global, technologically sophisticated, and culturally diverse. In fulfilling this vision, the Law School is dedicated to educating lawyers of competence, conscience and compassion. (Adopted in principle by faculty on 2/4/00)" --Santa Clara University website

The School of Law is thus dedicated to:

  • The training of lawyers with uncompromising standards of excellence in service to their clients and to society;
  • An emphasis on ethical considerations in the legal process;
  • Full participation of the legal academic community in the larger University community;
  • A diverse community of men and women devoted to freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression;
  • Excellence in teaching and scholarly research;
  • A balance of the rigorous and the humane in student-teacher relationships;
  • A curriculum addressing the fundamental demands of law practice and the evolving needs of society; and
  • Endeavors outside the University that reflect high moral standards and professional excellence.


Until 1939, the school inhabited present-day St. Joseph's Hall at the center of campus. Under the tenure of Dean Edwin Owens, Bergin Hall was constructed and became home to the school in 1939. The new building was built using monies collected through Santa Clara football's successful appearances in the Sugar Bowl and named after Thomas Bergin, Santa Clara's first graduate, a California legal pioneer, and an early donor to the School of Law.

The Edwin Heafey Law Library was constructed in 1963 and in 1973, the same year that Bannan Hall, which included space for the Law School on the ground floor, was built, Heafey was expanded to include more space for library materials. The library was renovated and expanded again in 1988 and there are plans for a third expansion in the near future.

The newest building serving the School of Law is Loyola Hall, formerly an R&D commercial building directly adjacent to the Santa Clara campus. This new property, leased by the university, provides space for many of the school's centers as well as some faculty offices. Dean Polden, upon opening the structure, announced that it is a temporary space and hinted that the university may seek money to build a new facility for the Law School.

Law School Deans

SCU Law School Dean, Donald Polden
  • James Campbell - 1911 to 1918
  • Lawrence E. O'Keefe, SJ - 1919 to1920
  • Clarence Coolidge - 1920 to1933
  • Edwin J. Owens - 1933 to 1953
  • Byron J. Snow - 1953 to 1955
  • Warren P. McKenney - 1955 to 1959
  • Leo Huard - 1959 to 1969
  • George Strong (acting) - 1970
  • George Alexander - 1970 to 1985
  • Richard Rykoff (acting) - 1985 to 1986
  • Gerald Uelmen - 1986 to 1994
  • Mack Player - 1994 to 2003
  • Donald Polden - 2003 to present

Centers and Institutes

  • BroadBand Institute of California
  • Center for Social Justice and Public Service
  • Death Penalty College
  • High Tech Law Institute
  • Institute of International and Comparative Law
  • Institute of Recovery and Redress
  • Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center
  • Northern California Innocence Project

Capital Campaign

"From Promise to Prominence: the Campaign for Santa Clara University School of Law" is intent on improving resources for endowment and programs. Below are a list of goals that the campaign wishes to realize.

Endowment: $4 million for endowed chairs; $4 million for scholarships Programs: $4 million Total Goal: $12 million Raised as of 6/30/05: $12.5 million

(An additional $4 million is to be raised by the university-wide Campaign for Santa Clara for capital projects)

External links

Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal Logo