For over 100 years, San Francisco Law School has been providing a quality legal education to a diverse student body - many of whom also work and have family responsibilities while attending, earning their law degree, the Juris Doctorate (JD).
San Francisco Law School offers an evening part-time program leading to the JD degree.
The part-time program spans four years with classes held four nights a week - Mondays through Thursdays. Moot Court, Bar Examination preparation classes and other courses are offered in the summer. Electives are often offered on the weekends.
Students at San Francisco Law School are instructed in all subjects tested on the California Bar Examination.
As the oldest evening law school in the western United States, San Francisco Law School was incorporated in 1909. It is one of the first law schools to be accredited by the State Bar of California, and has enjoyed continuous accreditation since 1937. San Francisco Law School is committed to delivering a quality legal education and creating opportunity for legal students in California.
With an inclusive culture and continuous commitment to diversity, San Francisco Law School was one of the first in California to actively seek out and enroll women and minority students. Many students at San Francisco Law School are the first in their families to seek a graduate degree. San Francisco Law School’s student body welcomes diversity and represents many different professions and aspirations.
San Francisco Law School has a proud tradition of a faculty of practicing attorneys and judges which allow them to bring realistic considerations into the classroom. Students have access to clinical fieldwork and internships through which they can gain professional exposure while in law school. San Francisco Law School strives to maintain an affordable legal program. Financial aid and scholarship assistance is available for qualifying law students.
San Francisco Law School is easily accessible to those who work and live in San Francisco and the Bay Area, as well as in and around San Diego County.
Students are fortunate to have at their door the limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth that the San Francisco Bay Area offers. It is difficult to overemphasize the value of living, working, studying, and most importantly, beginning one’s career in the hearty of this thriving, international urban center.
Law students at the school often work by day at law firms, government agencies, and businesses.
San Francisco Law School was incorporated as an evening law school on June 28, 1909, under the laws of the State of California. Yet, the Law School actually began operation in 1905 as the law department of the San Francisco Y.M.C.A.’s Evening School. The Dean of this evening law school was James A. Ballentine, a young Harvard educated lawyer, who also taught at Hastings College of the Law. The Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, which devastated San Francisco, also brought about the school’s separation from the YMCA. The building was destroyed and classes were temporarily held in a tent. It was in this tent that Dean Ballentine met with the faculty and law students and made plans to continue the evening law school.
Now, over one hundred years later, San Francisco Law continues to honor the rich academic tradition founded by Dean Ballentine and his colleagues.
San Francisco Law School was one of the first law schools in California to actively recruit women and minority students. Today the Law School’s ongoing commitment to diversity is unmistakable. The student body is culturally and ethnically diverse which lends a dynamic element to the academic community and enhances the interactive nature of the program.
Over the years, San Francisco Law School graduates have continually achieved impressive success. Among our outstanding alumni are California State Governor, the late Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, former Lt. Governor, Leo T. McCarthy, former Undersecretary of the United States Department of Energy, Joseph F. Salgado, past President of The State Bar of California, P. Terry Anderlini, past President of The National Bar Association, Tomas J. Broome, State Senator Milton Marks, Superior and Municipal Court Judges Victor Campilango, Merle R. Eaton, Eugene W. Krum, Betty L. Lamoreaux, Philip J. Moscone, Lynn O’Malley Taylor, and Marilyn Pestarino Zecher. In addition, San Francisco Law School’s graduates include many renowned California attorneys who have distinguished themselves in private practice as well as in public service as district attorneys and public defenders.
In 2010, San Francisco Law School merged with Alliant International University. As the law school of Alliant, San Francisco Law School looks forward to continuing its legacy as a provider of opportunity legal education for another century. As a fully accredited branch campus of San Francisco Law School, San Diego campus is in the process of building on a tradition of more than 100 years of legal education. San Francisco Law School rose from the 1906 earthquake and fire to serve the business and opportunity populations of San Francisco. San Diego campus of the San Francisco Law School is the first California-accredited law school in the San Diego area.
In 2020 San Francisco Law School moved to the new Alliant International University campus in Emeryville, California.
The Mission of San Francisco Law School
San Francisco Law School is dedicated to providing the opportunity for a quality legal education to a diverse student population, many of whom are working full-time jobs and have family responsibilities while attending law school.
For 100 years, San Francisco Law School has been devoted to creating skilled attorneys of the highest ethical caliber.
Since its earliest days, San Francisco Law School has been a model of non-discrimination, diversity and opportunity. Students at San Francisco Law School seek to better their own lives and that of their families. Historically, students are the first in their families to be in a doctoral program and, for some, the first to have graduated from college.
About San Diego Campus of the San Francisco Law School
San Francisco Law School maintains a fully accredited branch campus in San Diego. This branch campus is dedicated to providing students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to attain a quality legal education. San Francisco Law School understands that students often must learn to balance work and family responsibilities in a demanding law school environment.
The addition of the San Diego branch of San Francisco Law School is a natural complement to our existing legal program and provides even greater options and flexibility.
The San Diego Branch campus is part of a law school and a university that are steeped in traditions of non-discrimination, diversity and opportunity - where students seek to better their own lives and their families. Historically, many of our students are the first in their families to be in a doctoral program and, for some, the first to have graduated from college.
San Francisco Law School has been accredited continuously since 1937 by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Graduates of the Law School are eligible to practice law in the State of California upon passage of the California Bar Examination and successfully fulfilling all other licensing requirements. Study at, or graduation from, this law school may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or be admitted to practice law in jurisdictions other than California. A student who intends to seek admission to practice law outside of California should contact the admitting authority in that jurisdiction for information regarding its education and admission requirements. The address of the State Bar of California is 180 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 538-2000.
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Acceptance to San Francisco Law School is determined by the Admissions Committee, which takes into account the LSAT score, undergraduate GPA, professional background, and personal history of each applicant. The Committee seeks students who will contribute positively to the student body, successfully complete the law school program, and go on to become productive members of the Bar.
San Francisco Law School follows all Non-Discrimination policies. It does not discriminate on any of these bases in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, or any other school-administered programs.
To be considered for admission to San Francisco Law School, an applicant must provide the Law School, at least, with the following:
- A completed application form
- A personal statement
- Two letters of recommendation
- Official copies of all college and graduate course work and degrees
- Score from an LSAT examination
- Application fee
All the requirements detailed herein are in addition to the Admissions requirements detailed in the Admissions and Registration section.
Law School Admissions Test
All applicants must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) prior to enrollment. This examination is offered four (4) times a year. Applicants can make the necessary testing arrangements by contacting the Law School Admissions Council at www.lsac.org.
The minimum LSAT score required is 135 to be considered for full admission to the program. Students with LSAT scores between 135-146 may be considered for conditional admission to the program, but may be required to successfully complete the first year courses and pass the baby bar exam.
Individuals who took the LSAT less than five years ago will not be required to retake the LSAT exam if 1) the previous scores are acceptable and 2) a copy of previous score(s) can be obtained.
Personal statements are writing samples and thus should be well-written, grammatically correct and organized. A strong personal statement answers these questions: Why do you want to study law? What in your adult background leads you to believe you will be successful in law school and in a legal career? What special skills, attributes, and recent experiences will you bring to the law school community? Consider and include other pertinent information the admissions committee should review in weighing your application. All information which applicants wish to have considered by the Committee must be in writing and should accompany the application.
The statement should be in essay form, not resume form, and should be no longer than three (3) pages in length, double-spaced and typed. Applicants should not submit books, tape recordings, plays, theses, dissertations, or other such materials in lieu of, or in addition to, the personal statement. Such materials will not be evaluated by the Admissions Committee.
Interviews and Open Houses
San Francisco Law School encourages visits by applicants. Arrangements may be made to speak with the Director of Admissions, to attend one of the monthly Open Houses and to visit classes. The Admissions Committee reserves the right to require a formal interview as part of the admission process.
Student Admissions Status
Students can be admitted to San Francisco Law School under three status criteria. The first is as enrollment with regular status. The second is enrollment with special status. The third is enrollment with advanced standing.
Admission with Regular Status
Admission with regular status requires an enrollee to have:
- A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university; or
- An Associate degree from an accredited community college; or
- Have completed in good academic standing, at least two years of college (a minimum of 60 semester or 90 quarter units) at an accredited institution. The grade point average on all subjects undertaken must be equal to that required for graduation. At least 90% of the work must be in courses of substantive content as defined by the Committee of Bar Examiners.
Admission with Special Status
Applicants who do not satisfy the requirements for admission with regular status may nonetheless be considered for admission as special status students. Special status is designed for students who have achieved a level of maturity and professional experience which has prepared them for successful completion of the law school curriculum.
The State Bar of California requires that all special status applicants pass the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) prior to admission to law school. The applicant must attain passing scores of 50 on the following CLEP examinations:
- English Composition or English Composition with Essay; and
- Two of the following: humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, or history.
For CLEP Test applications and information contact: The College Board Western Regional Office, 2099 Gateway Place, Ste. 480, San Jose, CA 95110; (408) 452-1400.
Upon successful completion of the first-year curriculum, special status students must also take the First Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX) which is administered by the California Committee of Bar Examiners. This examination is sometimes referred to as the “Baby Bar.”
A special student may advance to the second year of law school before taking the FYLSX. However, those who pass the FYLSX will receive credit only for those studies completed prior to the third time that the FYLSX test is administered after the date that the special student is eligible to take the exam.
Students can continue into their second year of study despite their not having taken or not having passed the examination. In the case of applicants required to pass that examination, those who pass the examination within its first three administrations from the time of their first becoming eligible to take it may receive credit for all legal studies completed to the time subsequent to its first three administrations following such eligibility may receive credit for no more than one year of legal studies.
Admission with Conditional Status
Applicants who do not satisfy the requirements for admission with regular status may nonetheless be considered for admission with conditional status. The SFLS offers several admission with conditional status options. The Admissions Committee may conditionally admit a student and require that the student both complete the first year of law school in good standing and pass the First-Year Law Student Examination (sometimes called the Baby Bar) before being allowed to progress to the second year of law school. In conjunction with the above, or in the alternative, the Admissions Committee may require that an admitted student attend additional tutorials, academic support sessions, and/or an additional writing class.
Admission by way of the Gradual Start Program
The Admission Committee may accept the student into its Gradual Start Program. The Gradual Start Program involves enrolling in the following classes each semester, as well as participating in the Academic Support Program: a first-year legal writing class for 3 credits; a first-year substantive class for 3 credits; and a one-unit elective. The student must attain a grade of 70 or higher in each of these classes. When a student successfully completes this Gradual Start Program, the student will be fully enrolled as a student at the San Francisco Law School.
Admission to Advanced Standing
Students wishing to transfer from other law schools must provide official transcripts of all law study and a letter of good standing from the Office of the Dean of the last law school attended. Only courses successfully completed (C or better grade) are transferable. A student must earn 45 units while in residence at San Francisco Law School in order to graduate. “In residence” is defined as being in regular and punctual attendance at 80% of the classes in which the student is enrolled.
Applicants not in good academic standing at the time of leaving their prior law school, must also provide:
- Two letters of recommendation from the Dean and/or professors at the law school attended who can attest to the student’s ability for success in law school; and
- A personal statement detailing the circumstances that led to the student’s academic disqualification and includes the remedies taken to ensure success in future study.
Restarting Law School - Special State Bar Program
The State Bar of California is unique in allowing those who were not successful in their first year of law school to restart afresh. The San Francisco Law School will accept applications from those who seek to restart their legal education. In addition to the usual application process, the restart applicant must complete the “Starting Legal Studies Over Certification” from the State Bar of California. (Please note that by the express terms of the California State Bar’s “Starting First-Year Law Studies Over Policy,” previously academically disqualified law students who start their first year of law studies over pursuant to that policy may not receive any credit for any law studies completed prior to the date they restart their law studies.)
Admission with Visitor Status
Students in good standing at other accredited law schools may be admitted to attend courses at San Francisco Law School on a visitor/non-matriculating status after providing:
- An application;
- A completed enrollment form; and
- A letter of approval from their Dean.
These courses will be charged at the current unit rate for visiting students. Visitors are subject to all policies and regulations applicable to San Francisco Law School students.
Under certain circumstances, and in accordance with the applicable Rules and Guidelines of the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners, San Francisco Law School may, in its discretion, grant academic credit for courses completed at another law school, as follows:
For Students in Good Standing
To the extent deemed appropriate by San Francisco Law School and permitted by its own governing rules - and subject to the limitations prescribed by Guideline 5.8 of the Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules of the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners - San Francisco Law School may grant academic credit toward the J.D. degree for courses completed at another law school by a student who was not disqualified for academic reasons. (This guideline does not require the law school to grant such credit.)
For Academically Disqualified Students
To the extent deemed appropriate by San Francisco Law School and permitted by its own governing rules - and subject to the limitations prescribed by Guideline 5.7 of the Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules of the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners - San Francisco Law School may also grant academic credit toward the J.D. degree for courses completed at another law school by a student who has been previously disqualified for academic reasons (and who has been admitted by San Francisco Law School pursuant to Guideline 5.6). (This guideline does not require the law school to grant such credit.)
(Please note that by the express terms of the California State Bar’s “Starting First-Year Law Studies Over Policy,” previously academically disqualified law students who start their first year of law studies over pursuant to that policy may not receive any credit for any law studies completed prior to the date they restart their law studies.)
If you wish to explore the possibility of receiving academic credit for prior law study, please contact our Admissions Department for more detailed information and guidance.
San Francisco Law School does not grant deferred admissions. Applicants who are accepted and choose not to attend must reapply for any subsequent term. All applications are kept on file for at least two years, however, the original Application Fee is good for one year only. Individuals seeking to reactivate a file after one year must submit another application fee, along with a letter stating the year of original application and an updated application form. Additional documentation may be required.
For San Francisco Law School Tuition and Fees, financial aid information, refund policies, and other relevant information, please see the Expenses and Financial Aid section.
Please see the Payment Plan policy in the Expenses and Financial Aid section.
The Regular Program is four years, with Fall Semester beginning in early August. Classes meet Monday through Thursday evenings from 6:20-9:10 p.m. The academic year ends in May with final examinations. Units are earned at a rate of 19-21 each year. A total of 87 units is required for graduation and the award of the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence.
Students are awarded the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree (JD) after successful completion of 87 semester units of study in the required courses, 45 units of which must be taken in residence at San Francisco Law School. Candidates must have a grade point average of 70 or higher for the final year and a cumulative grade point average of 70 or higher. Graduating students must have been enrolled in law school for at least four years.
Subject to the limitations prescribed by Guideline 6.5(A) of the Guidelines for Accredited Law School Rules of the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners; students must complete all requirements for a JD no earlier than 32 months and no later than 84 months after a student has commenced law study at SFLS or a law school from which SFLS has accepted transfer credits.
Part-Time Regular Program
Students entering San Francisco Law School in the Fall of 2017, are required to take 21 units for their First Year, 22 core units the Second Year, 21 core units the Third Year and 16 units the fourth year, plus 7 elective units for a total of 87 units to graduate.
The school offers Moot Court in the Summer Session semester. MBE courses are also offered during the Summer Session, as well as any additional elective courses.
Method of Instruction
The predominant teaching method in the law school is the Socratic Method. The school develops in each student the basic legal skills of approaching problems theoretically through facts, distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant, and analyzing and reasoning cogently. Each year, students take courses that will significantly improve their practical skills. Students are required to actively participate in all classes; therefore, it is vitally important for each student to prepare thoroughly before class.
Academic Freedom Policy
Our Academic Freedom Policy states that all members of the faculty are dedicated to the proposition that the function of the school is to prepare graduates to take and pass the California Bar Examination. The minimum hours of instruction are set by the Committee of Bar Examiners as is the coverage of the subjects on the Bar Examination. Within these constraints, the method employed to teach the course is the prerogative of the instructor.
San Francisco Law School uses the following letter grading system:
For more information on quality points and GPA calculation, please see the Academic Policies section.
Students may take courses for credit at other accredited law schools if granted written permission from the Dean prior to enrollment at the other institution. Students are required to successfully complete 87 semester units of credit (1,305 hours) for award of the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence. At least 44 of the 87 units must be completed in residence at the Law School. Credit may be transferred from other law schools at the discretion and with the permission of the Dean. A satisfactory grade from the other law school is required in order for the grade to be transferrable. Grades are not transferable and will not be included in the grade point average computed by the university. Transfer students’ grades cannot be used to compete for Valedictorian or other similar awards or standing.
Midterm examinations may be required, and final written examinations are required in all graded courses. Certain pass/fail courses require term papers only. Exams are graded anonymously and generally form the basis for the student’s grade. If the instructor uses facts other than the written examination, the basis for the grade will be announced at the beginning of the semester and a statement of the grading policy will be on file with the administration office.
Students are required to sit for examinations on the date and at the times the examinations are scheduled by SFLS. The failure of a student to sit for an examination will result in the student receiving a grade of zero (failure) for that examination. The failure of a student to sit for a scheduled examination shall be considered as a failure to complete the course requirements and may also cause the student to be deemed as withdrawn without good standing.
Students who are unable to take a regularly scheduled examination within the prescribed period for such examinations, must request tha thte Registrar or Dean consider approving a special examination. Approval of such request is strictly within the discretion of the Dean and will not be granted routinely. The request will only be approved for good cause and under such special circumstances as defined in the SFLS Student Handbook.
If the student’s request is approved, the make-up examination must be taken on one of the two exam make-up days scheduled immediately after exam week, or at a time the Dean approves.
In this case, a fee of $75 per examination will be assessed.
Tutoring is available to students before and after classes. Each student is assigned a Student Advisor who is available for students to meet with in the law school. For additional Student Services information, please see the Student Services and Student Life section.
A student who withdraws while not in good academic standing is not entitled to readmission without the approval of the Dean. No academic credit will be given for partially completed courses. See the Academic Absence policy for additional information.
Students who enter San Francisco Law School do so to acquire a comprehensive legal education and to prepare for a career in the legal profession or related fields. Student conduct which obstructs or interferes with the administrative or academic process, or which interferes with the right of other students endeavoring to pursue their legal education, will be sufficient cause for removal from the law school.
The responsibility for decisions regarding suspensions, dismissal or removal from the law school for misconduct rests with the Dean, subject only to review and rehearing by a faculty committee appointed by the Dean. Each student is provided access to a copy of the student handbook which includes the rules which govern students, the academic program and the law school community. All students are responsible for reviewing the information in the student handbook.
Law school students are also subject to all Codes of Conduct published in the Student Rights and Responsibilities section.
Student Rights Policy
All students have the right to seek information or air any grievance regarding the school concerning academic or non-academic matters. Students may contact the school administration by letter or in person either directly, or through their elected student representatives.
Students who believe that a mathematical error was made on an examination may have the calculations reviewed. A student claiming that an instructor has departed from established policy or has unfairly graded an examination paper may petition in writing to have their claim reviewed by the Academic Standards Committee.
The Committee consists of at least three faculty members appointed by the Dean, and is in accordance with Section 2.01(B) & 3B (1) of the State Bar standards for operation of an accredited law school.
Law school students are also entitled to all rights detailed in the Student Rights and Responsibilities section.
San Francisco Law School maintains a working library within the University library system that is available to students. The collection includes current California statutes & cases, encyclopedia, specialized treatises, and other legal reference material.
The library maintains on-line access to Westlaw. Students can access Westlaw from the school library and from their homes to perform legal research and cases.
San Francisco Law School students are also granted usage of various law libraries throughout the Bay Area.
State Bar Requirements
A student who plans to practice law in California is encouraged to register with the State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners within 90 days after beginning the study of law. Registration forms are available from the State Bar on the web at www.calbar.org. It is each student’s responsibility to obtain and submit the form to the State Bar by the deadline and provide San Francisco Law School with a copy.
Admission to the State Bar
Information may be obtained from:
The Committee of Bar Examiners
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Curriculum Part-Time Program
For curriculum information, please visit the Juris Doctorate section of the catalog.
For course descriptions, please visit the Course Descriptions section of the catalog.
Student Interaction and Group Study
The school encourages student interaction and promotes the forming of study groups. School-sponsored student organizations, like the Student Bar Association (SBA), have established study groups, seminars, and libraries of study aids for the student body.
Student interaction is also facilitated by various school clubs. While all students are members of the SBA, one can choose to participate in other student organizations such as Delta Theta Phi, Law Fraternity International, the National Lawyers Guild, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the Black Law Student’s Association.
Student Bar Association
The primary purpose of the Student Bar Association is to create a forum for the discussion of issues relevant to student interests and concerns. The Student Bar Association (SBA) administers funds for a number of student activities, including career day and a spring dinner dance. The SBA also sells student-related merchandise, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, and mugs. All San Francisco Law School students are members of the SBA and are encouraged to take an active role.
Delta Theta Phi, Law Fraternity
Delta Theta Phi is an international law fraternity, maintaining Senates at San Francisco Law School, throughout U.S. law schools, and in various foreign law schools. San Francisco Law School’s Ehrlich Senate, established in 1983 is named for an eminent trial lawyer who attended San Francisco Law School. The Ehrlich Senate is highly active in student activities. Prior year’s activities have included court visitations, speakers and symposia, food-drives and various social gatherings. The Senate is also involved in academic activities. It maintains a study aid library, a tutorial/mentor program and assists law students by funding loans and scholarships. The fraternity also provides rewarding professional programs including opportunities for job networking, both for students and alumni.
Black Law Student’s Association
The Black Law Student’s Association (BLSA) is an association designed to articulate and promote the professional needs and goals of Black law students and to assist in the development of successful Black leaders. BLSA is governed by the National Black Law Student’s Association and is a chapter member of the “Mighty Western Region”, which includes various law schools within the states of Arizona, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. BLSA provides annual study retreats, job fairs and regional as well as national conventions.
National Lawyers Guild
Students are eligible for membership in the National Lawyers Guild, which seeks to unite lawyers, law students, and others in the legal profession whose aim it is to work together as a political and social force to protect human rights.
Association of Trial Lawyers of America
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) is an organization of attorneys, legal assistants, judges and law students. The San Francisco Law School Student Chapter, founded in 1993, provides student members with a broad spectrum of trial workshops, networking opportunities, and practical information that augments the classroom experience.
All graduates of the law school are members of the San Francisco Law School Alumni Association, which is governed by a board of volunteer directors and has four purposes: to act as a support organization for the goals and objectives of San Francisco Law School; to provide for the active exchange of ideas; to act as a referral resource for all alumni; and to act as a bridge between recent graduates and the legal community.
The San Francisco Law School Alumni Association is over 100 years old and sponsors alumni social events and participates in SFLS events and gatherings. These events provide an informal setting in which to get acquainted and to support students and recent graduates in their transition to the practice of law.
For faculty information, please visit the Faculty section of the catalog.