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Seattle University School of Law

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Seattle University School of Law
Parent school Seattle University
Established 1972
School type Private non-profit
Endowment $215 million
Dean Mark C. Niles
Location Seattle, WA, US
Enrollment 781 (full time)
201 (part time)
Faculty 65 (full time)
59 (part time)
(See List)
USNWR ranking 84
Bar pass rate 75.6%
LSAT 75th% 160
Median LSAT 158
LSAT 25th% 155
Undergrad. GPA 75th% 3.58
Median Undergrad. GPA 3.33
Undergrad. GPA 25th% 3.07
Annual tuition $37,330
ABA profile link
Outlines 0 (See List)
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Seattle University School of Law is located in Seattle, WA

Seattle University School of Law (formerly the University of Puget Sound School of Law) in Seattle, Washington is a professional graduate school affiliated with Seattle University, the Northwest's largest independent university.

The School is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Students pursue a Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Master of Laws (LL.M) for international students. Alumni of Seattle University School of Law practice in all 50 U.S. states and 18 foreign countries.[1]


Seattle University's 42 acre campus is located in the First Hill area of Seattle.

Sullivan Hall

Sullivan Hall, home to the School of Law, is a five story building housing the law school and law library on the eastern boundary of Seattle University campus. It features a street-front law clinic, media-equipped classrooms, law library, full courtroom, and activity areas. The court room is used for class, mock trials and actual court proceedings administrated by local judges.


Law school rankings of Seattle University School of Law include:

  • U.S. News & World Report - #84 overall among law schools in the United States; #1 among legal writing programs; #20 overall among part time law school programs in the United States; #50 for diversity among law schools.
  • National Jurist - "Top Public Interest Law Schools" (November 2008) - #16 overall among law schools for public interest law.[citation needed]


A feasibility study conducted by University of Puget Sound in 1971 revealed that Western Washington was the largest metropolitan area in the United States served by a single law school (University of Washington School of Law). Consequently, on December 20, 1971, the University of Puget Sound Board of Trustees voted to establish a school of law. Three weeks later, they announced the appointment of Joseph Sinclitico as the School of Law's first dean. Dean Sinclitico arranged to rent facilities in the new Benaroya Business Park on South Tacoma Way and hired Anita Steele to build a 50,000-volume library. He had a brochure printed up, hoping to entice 335 students to enroll for classes in the fall. Less than eight months later, on September 5, 1972, 427 students showed up for the first day of classes. Six months after the opening of classes, the law school made history when it received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in record time. Judge George Boldt, chairman of the school's first Board of Visitors, summed up the excitement shared by faculty and students alike: "All of us feel that creation of the school has been nothing short of a miracle." [2]

The Early Years

In 1974, the first year with three full classes, the school had 730 students, 17 full-time faculty, five professional librarians, and 70,000 volumes in its library. In September 1974, a joint team from the Association of American Law Schools and the American Bar Association gave their final accreditation inspection. By March 1975, both the ABA and the AALS had awarded the school full accreditation. Forty-six students graduated in time to take the February 1975 bar exam. Of those, 42 passed, beating the state's overall rate of 69%.

Also in the 1974-75 academic year, the student bar association was established, the first edition of the law review was published, and the first law clinic was begun.

In 1976, Wallace M. Rudolph, a professor from the University of Nebraska, became the school's second dean. Dean Rudolph solved the problem of providing a permanent home for the school by proposing to locate the law school at the downtown Tacoma site of the former Rhodes Department Store. The idea snowballed into a proposal for a "law center" that would include Division II of the State Court of Appeals as well as various law offices, a proposal that would expand opportunities for Seattle University law students in clinical areas.

The First Permanent Home

In September 1980 the $9 million Norton Clapp Law Center was dedicated. The library at that time contained more than 140,000 volumes and an extensive microform collection as well as WESTLAW and LEXIS computers, a COM card catalog, and video terminals for accessing the Washington Library Network database.

This new law center along with the growing reputation of the School of Law helped to draw a class of 466 students -- 130 more than anticipated -- into the entering class of 1980.

Dean Tausend

Later, in January 1981, prominent Seattle attorney Fredric Tausend, who had served for some years as an adjunct professor at the law school, was named its third dean.

Dean Tausend led efforts to increase diversity in the student body, expand clinical programs, and develop a first-rate legal writing program that today enjoys a national reputation. Under Dean Tausend's leadership, the school established its first alumni relations program, published its first alumni magazine, launched its first annual fund drive, offered its first comprehensive-achievement scholarship program, stabilized first-year enrollment at 360 students, and developed a highly sophisticated job placement operation.

The Later Tacoma Years

When Dean Tausend returned to full-time law practice in 1986, James E. Bond, a Wake Forest law professor, became the school's fourth dean. During his tenure the school dramatically improved the statistical profile of its entering classes moving from an average student in the 61st percentile of new law students to the 79th, and the school's admission policies moved the target entering class from 360 to 300. Dean Bond also helped to expand the clinical curriculum to include immigration law, trusts and estates, and personal responsibility.

Increased productivity by the faculty led to their inclusion among the nation's "Top 50" for scholarly publication in the national Law Faculty Scholarship Survey.

For these and other efforts, the school was ranked among "America's Best Law Programs" in a book published by Prentice Hall, Top Law Schools: The Ultimate Guide.

Move to Seattle

Dean Bond resigned to return to teaching in July 1993 and was succeeded by Professor Donald M. Carmichael, a faculty member at the law school since 1978, who had also served as the school's associate dean for academic affairs from 1987 to 1993.

In November 1993, Seattle University and University of Puget Sound announced an agreement to transfer sponsorship of the two-decades-old law school to Seattle University, and move all school facilities to Seattle University campus. In his annual presidential report that year, Father William Sullivan of Seattle University called the event "the most memorable day of my 20-year tenure as Seattle University's president." Just three months later, at 5 o'clock on August 19, 1994, the school officially became Seattle University School of Law.

Jim Bond was invited to return to the post of law school dean in 1995. Dean Kellye Testy was appointed February 15, 2005. Dean Testy, a summa cum laude graduate of Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington, is a leading scholar in corporate governance. During her tenure at Seattle University she co-founded the Law School's Access to Justice Institute, the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, and the Center on Corporations, Law & Society.[2][3] An email was sent to students May 13, 2009, stating that Dean Testy will be leaving Seattle University to be the new dean at University of Washington School of Law. On December 22, 2009, Mark Niles, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at American University School of Law in Washington, D.C., was named Dean of the School of Law, effective July 1, 2010.

Seattle University School of Law Library

The Seattle University School of Law Library was founded in 1972. As of 2011 it contained 162,316 books. It is a participant in the Federal Depository Library Program.[4]

Juris Doctor Program


In admission decisions, the law school places equal emphasis on three factors: (1) LSAT performance; (2) the undergraduate academic record; and (3) personal achievements. Admission is made to either the full-time day or part-time evening program. The mean LSAT score for admitted students is 160, and the median undergraduate GPA is 3.38.

Students admitted to the full-time program can choose to begin classes in June to reduce their first semester course-load in August. All part-time students begin in June.

2006 matriculating students were 51% women, 29% racial minorities, and an average age of 27.

Alternate Admissions Program

The School of Law also admits a limited group of applicants annually through its Alternate Admissions program. This Program addresses those cases where traditional admission criteria are inadequate predictors of success in law school and in the practice of law. Members of historically disadvantaged, underrepresented, or physically challenged groups are among those individuals considered for this program which is limited to accepting 10% of each entering class. Students may apply for the Alternate Admissions Program rather than applying for regular admission at their own discretion.

Focus Areas

In 1999, the Seattle University School of Law reorganized upper-division curriculum into focus areas. Each focus area consists of groups of related substantive and skills courses; students who wish to complete a focus area take from 15 to 25 credits in their chosen area, which includes prerequisite, foundational, skills, and elective courses. This program was designed to provide an integrated educational experience in a particular area of the law. Current Focus Areas include:[5]

Financial Aid

The law school’s Scholarship Program awards over $3 million per year to approximately 350 students including merit based scholarships, and loan forgiveness for alumni. The median grant amount is $7,000 for full-time and $5,500 for part-time annually. Almost all financial aid goes to the top twenty five percent of the applicant pool.

Scholars for Justice Award

Two students in each entering class are chosen on the basis of a separate application as Scholars for Justice. These students are given a full tuition scholarship in exchange for a commitment to spend their law career in traditionally low paying public service jobs.

Public Interest Law Foundation

The Seattle University Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) was established in 1993. In its early years, PILF helped create the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for students pursuing careers in public interest law. While the School of Law now manages the funding and administration of that program, PILF raises funds for a summer grant program through a pledge drive and an auction. In 2009 PILF awarded 19 summer grants to students working at nonprofits. Past grant have been to students working at the Center for Children and Youth Justice, Northwest Justice Project and Creative Commons among others. Grants can be given for domestic or international work.[6]


Notable alumni


External links