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University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

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University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
School type Public
Location Berkeley, CA, US
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 1 (See List)
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University of California, Berkeley, School of Law is located in Berkeley, CA

The UC Berkeley School of Law, formerly referred to as Boalt Hall, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley.

Boalt Hall is regarded as one of the most elite law schools in the United States. It is consistently ranked both as one of the top 10 law schools and the top public law school in the country. (Cynthia L. Cooper, The Insider's Guide to the Top Fifteen Law Schools (New York: Doubleday, 1990), 178-179.) Over the past several years, Boalt Hall has had an acceptance rate of around 10%, the lowest of any law school in the United States except Yale Law School and Stanford Law School. Admitted applicants generally have an undergraduate GPA of between 3.7 and 3.9 and a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score of between 164 and 169 (92nd and 99th percentile). The 2008 U.S. News & World Report ranked Boalt Hall eighth overall among all law schools in the country. It was also tied with the University of Michigan Law School for the distinction of top public law school. [1] Boalt Hall is renowned for having what is regarded as the best intellectual property program in the world, and has held the top spot in U.S. News and World Report rankings for 10 consecutive years running. [2]


The Department of Jurisprudence was founded at Berkeley in 1894. In 1913, the department was elevated to the School of Jurisprudence, which was then renamed the School of Law in 1951.

The School was originally located in Boalt Memorial Hall of Law, built in 1911 with funds largely from Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt donated in memory of her late husband, John Henry Boalt. In 1951, the School moved to its current location in the new Boalt Hall, at the southeast corner of the central campus, and the old Boalt Hall was renamed Durant Hall. The current structure is notorious for its bland architecture:

At its best, Boalt Hall has the comfort of an old couch—it's a serviceable place one can sink into without having to worry about ruining the upholstery. And at its worst, Boalt Hall is still an adequate facility, even if it is downright homely. Inside the building, spareness predominates, and the clearest design message is that this is a state university. (Cooper, 192.)


Boalt Hall has approximately 850 J.D. students, 30 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. Boalt Hall is known to value high undergraduate GPAs, perhaps even more than high LSAT scores (whereas the opposite is considered the norm at other top law schools). According to U.S. News and World Report, Boalt has the third-lowest acceptance rate among American law schools; approximately 10% of applicants are admitted.

The teaching style of Boalt's conservative faculty relies heavily upon the Socratic method, a standard curriculum, and a "stone-heavy work load." (Cooper, 178-183.)

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.(Cooper, 180.) 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.

When calculating grade-point averages (GPAs), which determine admission to the Order of the Coif and class ranks, a Pass grade is worth 2 points, an Honors grade is worth 3 points, and a High Honors grade is worth 5 points. (Boalt makes class ranks available to JD students only for the purpose of applying to judicial clerkships and academic positions.)

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. Approximately 88% of JD students receive financial aid. As state institutions, Boalt and UCLA had the lowest tuition of the top 15 law schools in the country in 2005. The tuition for the 2006-07 school year is $25,380.00 for California residents ($37,625.00 for nonresidents), though the sum has been rising each year.

Boalt Hall in popular culture

  • 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 an episode 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 Boalt Hall alumnus.
  • In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, a copy of the California Law Review is featured prominently on a table in the senior partner's office.

Centers at Boalt Hall

Law Journals at Boalt Hall

List of noted alumni

List of noted faculty

External links