Anahid Gharakhanian

Director of the Externship Program / Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills

Professor Anahid Gharakhanian

B.A., magna cum laude, Philosophy, 1989, University of California, Los Angeles; J.D., cum laude, 1992, Harvard University; Phi Beta Kappa; Member, California State Bar

BW 301

Anahid Gharakhanian is a champion of experiential learning and legal writing and has played a key role in Southwestern’s innovative Legal Analysis, Writing and Skills (LAWS) program, and in building one of the most extensive and highly regarded externship programs in California.

She began her legal career with the firm of Chadbourne & Parke LLP in Los Angeles where she practiced for six years and was responsible for all phases of complex litigation in state and federal courts as well as arbitration proceedings, ranging from defense of class actions and shareholder derivative suits to prosecution and defense of insurance and reinsurance, employment, business transaction, high-profile family law and various commercial matters. 

Professor Gharakhanian joined Southwestern‘s full-time faculty in 2002, teaching legal writing. She was instrumental in the redevelopment of the law school’s groundbreaking three-track LAWS program, including bringing a professionalism focus to LAWS with such components as mindfulness training and court visits. She is also the long-time director of the law school's Externship Program and has expanded the program to be one of the largest in the country.  

From 2012 to 2016, Professor Gharakhanian served as Vice Dean, with responsibility for the academic program, curriculum development and implementation of faculty policies, faculty-student relations, and oversight of the adjunct faculty, General LLM Program, JD admissions, and academic success, among other areas. 

She has found that by sharing practical examples from her own experiences as well as continuously gathering and sharing feedback from externship supervisors, she is able to make the skills that she teaches much more relevant for her students.

"Law students are professionals-in-training. Legal writing and externship placements are great opportunities to start thinking like a lawyer and get a feel for the profession; they are extremely helpful in transitioning to the practice of law." 

In addition to her teaching, Professor Gharakhanian has greatly enjoyed other opportunities to work with Southwestern students, which over the years has included serving in such positions as the faculty advisor for the Armenian Law Students' Association and the PLEAS Program.

Professor Gharakhanian is an active member of the Greater Los Angeles Consortium on Externships (GLACE), which includes the externship directors of Southwestern, Loyola, Chapman, Whittier, Pepperdine, UC Irvine, USC and UCLA law schools. She was one of the lead organizers and a presenter at the national GLACE Externships3 Conference in 2006, as well as for the GLACE Regional Externship Supervision Forums hosted at Southwestern in 2008 and 2014. She has also been a presenter in national Legal Writing Institute and Externship conferences, including the most recent 2016 Externships8 Conference.  Professor Gharakhanian has also been active with the Association of American Law Schools Balance Section, currently serving on the Board.

Professor Gharakhanian is committed to pro bono work and civic activities in the profession and greater community, and recently spearheaded the effort to establish the Southwestern Armenia Fellowship with the Ministry of Justice in Armenia to work on the development of the rule of law. She serves on the Advisory Committee for the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Armenia for advancing legal education in Armenia. She has also served as a temporary judge in Los Angeles Superior Court's Small Claims Court and has worked on a pro bono basis in the areas of domestic violence and other family law matters.