Dennis T. Yokoyama

Professor of Law

Professor Dennis Yokoyama headshot in dark suit and red tie in front of greenery and trees

B.A., Psychology, 1982, University of California, Los Angeles
M.S., Clinical Psychology, 1987, California State University, Los Angeles
J.D., cum laude, 1990, Loyola Law School

Order of the Coif

Member, California State Bar


Dennis Yokoyama has always been intrigued by why people behave the way they do and how they can overcome challenges that confront them. As a result, he earned degrees in psychology and served as a counselor and therapist before pursuing a career in law. He found it especially rewarding working with the homeless mentally ill in a long-term residential program. When he began his legal studies, he discovered a world that “is filled with moving tales of human struggle and accomplishment and that empowers its practitioners to help people in profound ways.”

"I want to inform and motivate my students, which I believe can best be accomplished through a classroom experience that is interactive, engaging, relevant, and enjoyable."

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Prof. Yokoyama graduated high school from the Harvard School (now Harvard-Westlake School). While in high school, he was a member of the speech and debate squad, achieving the rank of Special Distinction. He was also a member of the UCLA National Debate Team. His experiences competing in speech and debate tournaments helped him develop communication and critical reasoning skills that he found essential for the study and practice of law.

As a law student, Professor Yokoyama was a judicial extern for Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, a summer law clerk at Southern California Gas Company, and constitutional law teaching assistant. He also served as a staff member and articles editor for the Entertainment Law Journal. Following graduation, Professor Yokoyama joined the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker (now Paul Hastings) in Los Angeles, where he worked as an associate with the firm's environmental and commercial litigation practice group.

Professor Yokoyama joined Southwestern in 1992, and three years later was appointed as director of the Legal Research and Writing Program, a position he held for 12 years. He came up with the idea of renaming the program to the Legal Analysis, Writing, and Skills (LAWS) program, which better reflects the program’s scope. Currently, in addition to teaching core courses in the traditional program, he also serves as faculty advisor to the law school's chapter of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. To bring together the many diverse student organizations, he helped create Southwestern’s annual Cultural Food Fair in 1992.

In the classroom, Professor Yokoyama's goal is "to teach students the critical thinking and writing skills that will lead them to excel in law school and practice—valuable tools that they can use the rest of their lives."

Selected Achievements

Southwestern Excellence in Teaching Award (academic year): 1999-2000; 2012-2013; 2014-2015; 2017-2018; 2020-2021; 2021-2022

Named as Paul E. Treusch Professor of Law (2007-2008)

President, Japanese American Bar Association (JABA), 2008 - 2009; President-Elect, 2007; Vice President, 2005-2006; Treasurer, 2000 – 2004. He currently serves as a Governor of JABA, one of the oldest ethnic minority bar associations in the country. Since it was founded over 40 years ago, JABA has served the legal community and the community at large in promoting equality, diversity, and mutual respect.

Founding Member, Association of Legal Writing Directors (1995 – present)

Assistant Editor, The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute (1998 - 2004)