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The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, commonly referred to as Berkeley Law and Boalt Hall, is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeleymarker. Admitted applicants generally have an undergraduate GPA of between 3.7 and 3.9 and a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score of between 164 and 170 (90th and 98th percentile of all test-takers).

In April 2008, the law school rebranded itself from "Boalt Hall" to "Berkeley Law", in order to more closely tie the law school's name with the campus upon which it resides. The administration hopes that this move will further increase the law school's prestige, since people will now associate it with the world-renowned Berkeley campus.


Boalt Hall
The Department of Jurisprudence was founded at Berkeley in 1894. In 1912, the department was elevated to the School of Jurisprudence, which was then renamed the School of Law in 1950.

The School was originally located in the center of the main UC Berkeley campus in the Boalt Memorial Hall of Law, built in 1911 with funds largely from Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt donated in memory of her late husband, John Henry Boalt. In 1951, the School moved to its current location in the new Boalt Hall, at the southeast corner of the campus, and the old Boalt Hall was renamed Durant Hall. The current structure is notorious for its bland architecture:


Boalt Hall's law library was expanded in 1996 with the North Addition, pictured above.
Boalt Hall has approximately 850 J.D. students, 100 students in the LL.M. and J.S.D. programs, and 45 students in the Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. The School also features specialized curricular programs in Business, Law and Economics, Comparative Legal Studies, Environmental Law, International Legal Studies, Law and Technology, and Social Justice.

The JD program's admissions process is highly selective. Boalt Hall is known to value high undergraduate GPAs, perhaps even more than high LSAT scores (whereas the opposite is considered the norm at other top law schools). Consequently, Berkeley has the fourth highest 75th percentile GPA, surpassed only by Yale Law School, Harvard Law Schoolmarker and Stanford Law School. According to U.S. News and World Report, Boalt has the third-lowest acceptance rate among American law schools, with about 10% of applicants admitted; only Yale and Stanford have lower rates.

Boalt's grading system for the JD program is unusual among law schools. Students are graded on a High Honors (HH), Honors (H), and Pass (P) scale. Approximately 60% of the students in each class receive a grade of Pass, 30% receive a grade of Honors, and the highest 10% receive a grade of High Honors; lower grades of Substandard Pass (or Pass Conditional, abbreviated PC) and No Credit (NC) may be awarded at the discretion of professors. The top student in each class or section receives the Jurisprudence Award, while the second-place student receives the Prosser Prize.

For a typical class in the JD program, the average age of admitted students is 24 years old, over a range of ages from 20 to 48 years old. As state institutions, Boalt and UCLA had the lowest tuition of the top 15 law schools in the country in 2005. The tuition for the 2008-09 school year is $30,944 for California residents ($43,189 for nonresidents), though the sum has been rising each year.

The faculty of Berkeley Law also provide academic direction and the bulk of the instruction for the undergraduate program in Legal Studies, which is organized as a major in Letters and Science. The Legal Studies program is not intended as a pre-law program, but rather as a liberal arts program "that can encourage sustained reflection on fundamental values."


US News ranks Boalt Hall 6th among top law schools in the US, tied with the University of Chicago. In addition, it is also the number one public law school in the country. It has the second smallest student body and the smallest student/faculty ratio of all the UC schools. While it is the most expensive law school in the UC system, it is only slightly more expensive than UCLA. However, it grants a median amount in financial aid for the system, and students tend to graduate with the least amount of debt on average than most of the other UC schools, with the exception of Davis.

According to Brian Letier's Law School rankings, Boalt ranks 7th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact as measured by academic citations of tenure-stream faculty. In terms of student numerical quality, Boalt ranks 14th in the nation.

According to The Daily Journal, 15 of the top 100 lawyers in California are Boalt alumni. Law and Politics' Super Lawyers magazine ranks Boalt as #9 in the country, just above Yale Law based on the amount of Super Lawyers it produces. 890 alumni are in their list of the top 5% of peer rated attorneys for 2009.

Boalt Hall in popular culture

  • Sandy Cohen, a character on the popular television series The O.C., is a lawyer and a Boalt Hall alumnus. The O.C. at Boalt is a student group that, in addition to screening episodes of The O.C. during the lunch period, offers the Sandy Cohen Fellowship, a summer grant for students who plan to work as public defenders (on The O.C., Sandy Cohen worked as a public defender while living in Orange County). In recent years, The O.C. at Boalt has also managed to bring Peter Gallagher, the actor who plays Sandy Cohen, to Boalt to speak on an annual basis.
  • Matthew Perry played a Republican graduate of Boalt Hall on multiple episodes of The West Wing.
  • Kelly Rutherford played lawyer Samantha 'Sonny' Liston, a graduate of Boalt Hall, on E-Ring.
  • Joanie Caucus, a character in Garry Trudeau's comic strip Doonesbury, attended Boalt Hall.
  • In Catch Me if You Can, Martin Sheen plays Roger Strong, the District Attorney of New Orleans and a Boalt Hall alumnus.
  • In the movie Intolerable Cruelty, a copy of the California Law Review is featured prominently on a table in the senior partner's office.

Centers at Berkeley Law

A view of San Francisco and the Bay from Boalt Hall.

Law Journals at Berkeley Law

List of noted alumni

List of noted faculty

See also


External links

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