McGeorge School of Law

History of McGeorge

Palm Trees at entrance with fisheye lens

Established more than 93 years ago, the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law is an internationally recognized leader in the field of legal education with alumni practicing in all 50 states and in 58 countries. Its location in the capital city of California, Sacramento, has shaped the school's focus on state and local government law, International law, water law, and advocacy.

McGeorge Today

Michael Hunter Schwartz, former dean and professor of law in the William H. Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, became the 10th dean of McGeorge School of Law, in July 2017. Each of the past three years, Dean Schwartz has been ranked among the 15 Most Influential People in Legal Education; he was ranked ninth in 2017.

The McGeorge School of Law faculty includes full-time and part-time professors who hold law degrees from top law schools in the country, including Harvard, University of Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, McGeorge, and Georgetown. McGeorge faculty members have created three national law school textbook series, have published, collectively, more than 100 books, and have published law school textbooks that have been adopted at more than 185 ABA law schools in the United States.

The McGeorge School of Law Legal Studies Center was opened in 2011 and houses the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library. The state-of-the-art library serves the Sacramento legal community of students, law clerks and members of the Sacramento County bench and bar. McGeorge School of Law enjoys a number of significant national rakings, including a top-10 ranking for trial advocacy, a top-10 ranking for government law, an A+ ranking for providing practical legal training, a top-20 ranking for International Law, and a top-35 ranking for part-time programs. McGeorge School of Law has more than 13,000 alumni who practice in all 50 states and in 58 countries. More than 350 McGeorge alumni serve as judges, including two who are judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-highest court in the nation, and two who are state Supreme Court justices in Nebraska and Nevada.

McGeorge's unique Focused Decisions arm serves practicing lawyers all over the country providing litigation and jury consulting services, including mock trials and focus groups, trial presentations and technology support, and videography and editing services,

In The Beginning

McGeorge School of Law began as a one-room night school in downtown Sacramento (L & 10th) in 1924, when it was founded as the Sacramento College of Law. Verne Adrian McGeorge was the founding dean and professor of law. The first commencement in 1925 marked the graduation of five new attorneys. The first female graduate of the school was Rose Sheehan in 1927, marking the college as ahead of its time in diversity and inclusion. In 1929, the Board of Trustees renamed the school McGeorge College of Law in honor of its founder.

Succeeding McGeorge, Russell Harris was dean from 1930-1933. Gilford Rowland was dean from 1933-1937. Lawrence Dorety was dean from 1937 until the school closed during WWII. The school reopened in 1946 under Dean John Swan. Dean Swan began to pursue a permanent home for McGeorge College of Law after several moves in downtown Sacramento.

Legacy of Leadership

In 1957, the influential Gordon D. Schaber became dean of McGeorge College of Law after Dean Swan's sudden death. Soon after, the Board of Trustees voted to move the school to a vacant well-baby clinic at the corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue in the Oak Park neighborhood. Today, the McGeorge School of Law campus has grown to 13 acres. The law-school only campus continues to be located in Oak Park, three miles southeast of the state Capitol building in Sacramento, California.

For 34 years, Dean Schaber guided the school through its emergence as a first-class law school. In 1964, Schaber won accreditation by the Committee of Bar Examiners for the state of California. He recruited top-notch faculty, such as U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (Ret.), who taught constitutional law on the Sacramento campus from 1965-1988.

Emergence of McGeorge as a National Law School

McGeorge School of Law was accredited by the American Bar Association in 1969, paving the way for its rise to national prominence. In 1983, McGeorge School of Law became a member school in the Order of the Coif, the ABA's highest acknowledgement of academic excellence; less than half of all law schools accredited by the American Bar Association are also Order of the Coif member schools. The ABA bestowed on Schaber its highest honor for service in legal education (The Kutak Award) in 1991, the year he stepped down as dean.

Dean Gerald Caplan succeeded Schaber in 1991. During Caplan's tenure, the Governmental Affairs program was established to capitalize on the school's location in Sacramento. He expanded McGeorge's presence in intercollegiate Mock Trial competitions around the nation. In 2002, Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker became the eighth dean of McGeorge School of Law. Parker championed the expansion of student study and faculty exchanges in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Parker expanded externships and started new clinical programming in specialty areas such as immigration, mediation, and appellate advocacy. She launched strong collaborations with high schools to establish mentoring programs and law-themed curricula. In 2012, Francis J. Mootz III, formerly of UNLV's William Boyd School of Law, became the ninth dean of McGeorge. Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, who previously served as the dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, joined McGeorge as its tenth dean in 2017.

Affiliation with University of the Pacific

McGeorge merged with University of the Pacific as their school of law in 1966 and began offering day classes the following year. The original evening program for California leaders continues today, and is consistently recognized as one of the best part-time law programs in the nation.

Areas of Academic Distinction

McGeorge School of Law offers award-winning programs in moot court and mock trial, having won dozens of competitions, has one of the strongest government law programs in the country, and enjoys a global reputation for its programs in international law and water law. Its master program in Transnational Business Practice counts 500 alumni around the globe, and the law school offers the only LLM in water law in the nation. McGeorge also offers the only Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Public Administration degrees in the nation that are housed in a law school. The school offers annual summer programs for JD students in Salzburg, Austria, and Antiqua, Guatemala, attracting law students from around the world.

McGeorge's location in Sacramento, California's capital city, is a benefit to students who want to study public law and governmental decision-making. The McGeorge Capital Center prepares students for careers in leadership and service through extensive externship and co-curricular opportunities.

McGeorge has a rigorous core curriculum and also offers students a cutting-edge legal writing program and outstanding legal clinics, including clinics providing legal services in the areas of immigration law, mediation, legislation and public policy, bankruptcy, elder and health law, criminal law, and small business law. Students and supervising attorneys handle hundreds of civil and immigration cases a year through all phases, including trial and appeal; author legislation actually enacted by the California legislature; mediate disputes between prisons and prison inmates; and draft legislation.

Mission Statement

(As Approved by the Faculty on Oct. 27, 2016)

The mission of the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, is to:

Provide a student-centered education that prepares its graduates for productive, successful, and ethical careers in law and other professions that serve society, and for leadership in building a diverse society committed to global social justice; and

Contribute to the improvement of law and policy through engaged scholarship and other forms of public service.