Message from the Dean Regarding Fall 2021

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February 17, 2021

Dear Prospective Southwestern Students,

I hope that you are staying healthy and safe and doing well.  So many of you have participated in our Admissions events and have been engaged with the Southwestern community.  I applaud your commitment to exploring law school during these unusual times and am writing to provide updates and information about issues that may be on your mind as you plan to start your law school career in the coming academic year.

Campus Reopening – We Are More than Ready.

Under governmental orders applicable to colleges and universities, we are not yet able to be on our beautiful campus.  However, we have been working hard to get the campus Library and other spaces ready to open as soon as allowed by the authorities.  You can see photos of how we’ve readied the Library to comply with orders and safeguard our community’s health.  We anticipate initially reopening the campus to provide use of the Library to our students (which Los Angeles County deems an initial step in reopening colleges and universities).

I know that many of you are eager to find out whether 2021-22 classes will be held on campus.  Unfortunately, given the uncertainties with the pandemic and rate of vaccinations, we are in a wait-and-see situation.  For our SCALE (2-year J.D.) students, who start classes on June 14th, we will be in touch by early April to advise if classes will be on campus, remote, or a combination.  For our traditional J.D. students, who’ll have Orientation on August 10th, we will be in touch by early June to provide that information.

Remote and Thriving!

Like our entire community, I cannot wait to get back to the usual bustle on our lively campus, but I couldn’t be more proud of our staff and faculty who’ve more than maintained Southwestern’s academic rigor and the warmth of our community while we’ve been away from the campus.  And I couldn’t be more proud of our students whose fortitude has kept them engaged in course work, externships, honors advocacy programs, and much more, while forging ahead undeterred to become proud Southwestern Law School graduates and successful legal professionals.  Our student leadership has been exceptionally creative and active, and the contributions of our Student Bar Association and many of our student organizations in drawing us together in meaningful ways has been a critical element in sustaining Southwestern’s remarkable culture, and in some instances even strengthening it.

Our most recent bar takers epitomize Southwestern students’ tremendous grit – with a phenomenal 85% pass rate for Southwestern’s first-time California bar exam takers.  Despite facing a myriad of challenges that so many of us have been living through this last year – plus ever-changing plans for the July 2020 bar exam that was finally administered in October – Southwestern’s October California Bar Exam takers produced remarkable results.

Here for You at Every Turn.

I am confident that our entering class of 2021 will have the same zeal and commitment to succeed in law school and on the bar exam as our October 2020 bar takers.  Of course, all of your efforts will be supported by our phenomenal faculty and staff (I can say they are phenomenal given all I’ve seen in my over four decades in legal education and 24 years as a Dean at two law schools!).  I hope you’ve gleaned from our Admissions programming and materials Southwestern’s deep commitment to our students’ success.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Free summer programming to help incoming students transition to law school: Bison Boot Camp.
  • Extensive diversity, inclusion, and belonging support and programming.
  • Financial support beyond our usual array of scholarships and financial aid to respond to the financial emergencies in light of the pandemic.  Through early February, we have distributed approximately $300,000 in emergency funds, donated by Southwestern community members, to a large number of students.  Also, we’ve disbursed to students all of the $500,000 Southwestern has received through the CARES Act.  Additionally, we’ve provided hotel stipends to the October bar takers so they could have a quiet and comfortable space for taking the bar exam; we’re supporting our February 2021 bar exam takers in the same way.
  • Proliferation of the intellectual life of the school, including our most recent highly successful Law Review Symposium – “Widening the Lens of Justice: Unmasking the Layers of Racial and Social Inequality” – is one example.
  • Expansion of our distinguished faculty, including in our nationally-recognized entertainment law area, with our most recent addition – Professor Kevin J. Greene, a nationally recognized and influential scholar and practitioner.
  • Our IT Department in overdrive, directly supporting students’ computers and internet connectivity and offering a technology equipment loaning program for laptops and MiFi hotspots (available to current students and bar takers).
  • All-hands-on-deck hustle to assure that our students continue to have excellent real-world education through externships (despite some organizations canceling their externship programs due to the pandemic), including 211 externs over the summer, ranging from the World Bank to the U.S. District Court, from Neighborhood Legal Services to LA County District Attorney’s Office, from Anthem, Inc. to ViacomCBS and Warner Bros., and much more.

Please continue to educate yourself about excellence in legal education at Southwestern and keep joining us at our Admissions events.  You’re also welcome to contact our Admissions Office with any questions you might have (admissions@swlaw.edu).  No question is too small; we want to hear from you!

Warmly,

Dean Susan Westerberg Prager