McGeorge School of Law

J. Clark Kelso

Professor of Law
J. Clark Kelso
Phone: 916.739.7000
Office Hours
By appointment.


BA, University of Illinois
JD, Columbia University


Professor Clark Kelso, the law school's Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, is one of the leading authorities on judicial administration in California. He has worked closely with the leadership in the California Judicial Branch and with Senate, Assembly and Executive Branch leaders on constitutional amendments, legislation, and rules of court to improve and reform the California Judiciary and the administration of justice. Professor Kelso's work with the California Judicial Council has included service as consultant and reporter for the Blue Ribbon Commission on Jury System Improvement, the Business Courts Study Task Force, the Select Coordination Implementation Committee, the Court Technology Task Force, the Appellate Process Task Force, and the Task Force on Complex Litigation. He has been the primary consultant on trial court unification to the Judicial Council and the California Law Revision Commission since 1993. He was the primary author of the Deskbook on the Management of Complex Litigation (2000), used by California judges. He served as the Administrative Office of the Courts' Scholar-in- Residence during 2002-2003.

In recognition of his service to the administration of justice, the California Judicial Council selected Professor Kelso to receive the 1998 Bernard E. Witkin Amicus Curiae award, which is given to an individual other than a member of the Judiciary for outstanding contributions to California's courts. At the time, he was the youngest person and first law professor to receive this award.

Generally recognized as "Mr. Fix-It" for California State Government, Professor Kelso has held a number of high-level positions in California's Executive Branch, including service as California's Insurance Commissioner, Director of the Department of Information Technology, Director of the California Performance Review, Director of the Department of General Services, Chair of the California Earthquake Authority and for six years, as the State's Chief Information Officer.

Professor Kelso's service in these various positions garnered state and national attention. He received a "Top 25 Award for '2004 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers'" from Government Technology, was named as one of the "Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2007" by Computerworld, and was inducted into the California Information Technology Hall of Fame in 2014. He was also named by California Lawyer as one of the top "34 Lawyers Who Made A Profound Impact on the Law in 2007" and was listed by the Daily Journal as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers in California for 2007."

In 2008, Professor Kelso was appointed by federal District Judge Thelton E. Henderson as the federal receiver for California's prison medical care system, charged with making changes in that system to bring it into conformity with constitutional minimums.

In recognition of his many accomplishments, Professor Kelso received the "2014 Elizabeth G. Hill Public Official of the Year" award from the American Society for Public Administration — Sacramento Chapter.

A 1983 graduate of the Columbia University School of Law, Professor Kelso clerked for the Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy on the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit. He joined the faculty at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in 1986 after practicing law briefly in the New York offices of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler.


Remedies & Principles of Law

Public Health Law

Health Law

Representative Scholarship

The California Supreme Court's 2009-2010 Term: The "George Court" comes to a close, Cal. Bar J., Sept. 2010 available at

Access to Justice: A Broader Perspective, 42 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1147 (2009) (with William C. Vickrey & Joseph L. Dunn).

Book Review,7 Election L.J.: Rules, Pol. & Pol’y 259 (2008) (reviewing Michael Streb ed., Running for Judge: The Rising Political, Financing, and Legal Stakes of Judicial Elections (2007)).

Organizational Change in California’s Court System: Unification of Trial Courts, in Canada’s Trial Courts: Two Tiers or One? (Peter H. Russell ed., 2007).