Berkeley Law is one of the nation’s premier law schools, located at one of the world’s great universities, in one of the most vibrant places on the planet.
Berkeley Law is one of 14 schools and colleges at the University of California, Berkeley. It is consistently ranked as one of the top law schools in the nation.
The law school has produced leaders in law, government, and society, including Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren, Secretary of State of the United States Dean Rusk, American civil rights activist Pauli Murray, California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, president and founder of the Equal Justice Society Eva Paterson, United States Northern District of California Judge Thelton Henderson, and Attorney General of the United States Edwin Meese.
|Director of admissions||Edward G. Tom|
|Application deadline||February 1|
|Approximate number of applications||5336|
|Tuition and fees Full-time:||$48,703 per year (in-state)
$52,654 per year (out-of-state)
|Room and board||$20,128|
A number of lawyers who regularly interview at Berkeley Law have told us that they sometimes have difficulty evaluating the academic records of our students or comparing them with those of students at other schools. This webpage attempts to address those concerns.
Students can receive one of five grades in courses at Berkeley Law: High Honors (HH), Honors (H), Pass (P), Pass Conditional/Substandard Pass (PC), or No Credit (NC). In first-year JD classes, the curve for honors grades is strict–the top 40 percent of the class receives honors grades, with 10 percent of the class receiving High Honors and the next 30 percent receiving Honors. There is no required curve for the grades of Pass and below, and faculty members are not required to give any Substandard Pass or No Credit grades. In second- and third-year classes, up to 45 percent of the class can receive honors grades, of which up to 15 percent of the class can receive High Honors. In small seminar classes, the curve still exists, but it is further relaxed. A very few courses are graded on a Credit (CR)/No Pass (NP) basis.
Berkeley Law students are not ranked by their academic records. Nor do we calculate grade point averages (GPAs). Moreover, the grade ranges described above often do not make fine distinctions. A student who received a Pass grade, for example, may have done very strong or only minimally passing work. How then can employers make sense of Berkeley Law transcripts?
Here are some suggestions:
Students are graded on a curve, which strictly limits recognition for excellence. At Berkeley Law, the grading system has remained constant for more than 25 years. There has been no grade inflation, even though the credentials of our students–whether measured by undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, or prior life attainments–are far stronger than they were 25 years ago.
With a fixed curve and a talented student body, an Honors grade represents a substantial achievement and a High Honors grade an outstanding one. For internal purposes, the Berkeley campus translates both Honors and High Honors grades into its system as A’s. (However, if you receive a transcript which lists letter grades from a Berkeley Law student, please return it to the student and require that he or she provide a transcript from the law school Registrar’s Office, not from the main campus.)
A student with mostly Honors grades is doing excellent work in very competitive company. And a transcript with a rough mixture of Honors and Pass grades represents strong performance that would likely stand above the class median at schools of comparable quality.
Second, keep in mind that Berkeley Law’s student body is exceptionally strong. For example, the class that entered Berkeley Law in the fall of 2014 (i.e., the Class of 2017) had a median college GPA of 3.79, and a median LSAT score of 167 (in the 94th percentile).
Third, in evaluating student records with more Pass grades, it is important to remember that a significant number of students receive such grades even though they have written examinations that placed them above or near the class median. At schools with more conventional grading systems, median performances often earn a grade of B+. Thus even a record with no or few High Honors or Honors grades may conceal considerable academic distinction. For example, each year a few Berkeley Law students whose exam performance places them at or above the class median in their first-year courses fail to achieve a single Honors grade. Sometimes such students can provide letters from their instructors documenting their strong performance. In other cases, one must speak to academic references, review writing samples, weigh journal commitments, or evaluate the quality of the undergraduate record in order to form a fair estimate of the student’s achievement and potential.
Finally, we at Berkeley Law want to ensure that you receive the information you need to make reasoned choices both between law students and graduates from other schools and among Berkeley Law students and graduates. You should feel free to call faculty references given by students. If you have additional questions, contact our Assistant Dean for Career Development, Terrence Galligan, at 510-642-7746.
A Note about LLM and JSD Student Grades
A separate mandatory curve applies to all LLM and JSD students in classes and seminars with 11 or more LLM and JSD students such that 20% of the LLM and JSD students receive HHs, 30% receive Hs, and 50% receive Ps. The same curve is recommended for LLM and JSD students in classes and seminars with 10 or fewer LLM and JSD students.
The Order of the Coif is a national honor society for law school graduates who attended member schools. Each year it extends invitations to the top 10% of Boalt’s graduating J.D. students by grade point average. GPA is determined by multiplying the point value of each grade received in a Boalt course by the units given for that course, and dividing the sum of the products by each student’s total number of graded units. No application is necessary, although students should make sure that their final transcripts are accurate.
Three-year Boalt students must have at least 75% of the total credits needed to graduate in graded courses. At a minimum, graduates must therefore have 64 graded credits by the end of their third year. Non-Boalt and non-law courses are not counted into the GPA. Students who have obtained a substantial number of ungraded credits (through journal work, moot court participation, and the like) and who aspire to Coif membership should pay careful attention to the number of graded units they will have at the completion of their studies. Only graded courses are counted in determining final GPA.
As students consider classes, they should keep in mind that some of our clinics are offered for credit/no credit, while others are offered for a grade. Students who would like to be eligible for Order of the Coif should pay close attention to which clinics they choose to take and any impact that decision might have on the total number of graded units they have.
Students who spend a semester or two studying at an institution other than Boalt (e.g., Harvard Exchange, transfer, or joint degree students) will compete for Coif admission based entirely on their Boalt grades. To be eligible for Coif, transfer students must take a minimum of 36 graded units during their two years at Boalt. Harvard exchange students must take a minimum of 43 graded units at Boalt and receive passing or higher grades in their courses at Harvard. Joint degree students must take a minimum of 56 graded units at Boalt.
|Name of Award||Awarded for/to|
|Order of the Coif||Top 10% of graduating class|
|Jurisprudence Prize||Highest ranking student in section/class|
|Prosser Prize||Second highest ranking in section/class|
|Best Brief Award||Best oral argument in 1L WOA section|
|Best Oral Argument||Best oral argument in 1L WOA section|
|McBaine Moot Court Awards||Advanced Moot Court Competition|
|Thelen Marrin Award for Scholarship||Best GPA from first 5 semesters|
|Thelen Marrin Award for Writing||Best published student article|
|Stephen Finney Jamison Award||Best student scholar advocate|
|Alvin and Sadie Landis Scholarship||Top student in Local Gov. Law or Water Law|
|Francine Diaz Memorial Award||3L minority woman/Public Interest Law|
|Class of 1995 Student Service Award||3L contributing most to Boalt Hall community|
|Brian M. Sax Prize||Excellence in clinical advocacy|
|Harmon Environ. Law Writing Award||Most outstanding environmental law writing|
|Nat'l Assoc. of Women Lawyers Award||Schol. excellence/promoting women's welfare|
|Eleanor Swift Awar||Public Services|
The California Law Review is the preeminent legal publication at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Founded in 1912, the California Law Review publishes six times annually on a variety of engaging topics in legal scholarship.The California Law Review is edited and published entirely by students at Berkeley Law.
The Ecology Law Quarterly is among the oldest and most prestigious journals publishing environmental law scholarship. Publishing four issues a year, ELQ provides a forum for preeminent scholarship on groundbreaking environmental law topics, including renewable energy, environmental justice, and international environmental law. In 2008, ELQ launched Ecology Law Currents, an online companion journal designed to publish pieces on a more frequent basis than the print journal.
The Berkeley Technology Law Journal is a student-run publication of the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley. We started in March 1985, published our first issue in Spring 1986, and have since covered emerging issues of law in the areas of intellectual property, high-tech and biotech. BTLJ strives to keep judges, policymakers, practitioners, and the academic community abreast of this dynamic field.
The Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law ("BJELL") is a student-edited law journal focusing on current developments in labor and employment law. It was founded in 1975 as the Industrial Relations Law Journal. Today, BJELL semiannually publishes works reviewing issues connected to employment discrimination, labor law, public sector employment, employee benefits, and other related issues. BJELL welcomes all relevant submissions, including scholarly articles, student-authored comments, book reviews, and essays.
The Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL) is recognized as a leading international law journal in the United States. BJIL infuses international legal scholarship and practice with new ideas to address today’s complex challenges. BJIL is committed to publishing high-impact pieces from established and newer scholars likely to be referenced and relied on for a cutting edge approach to topics of international and comparative law. As the center of Berkeley’s international law community, BJIL hosts professional and social events which engage likeminded students, academics, and practitioners in pressing international legal issues.
The Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice, a continuation of Berkeley Women’s Law Journal, was founded in 1984 by a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law who came together with a vision of “preserving our voices of diversity and maintaining our commitment to social change within the often-stifling confines of a law school environment.”
The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal ("BLRLJ" or "the Journal") produces knowledge designed to capture the imagination of legislators, stir the consciences of judges, and provide a dynamic tool for practitioners concerned with the impact of their work on behalf of the Latina/o community.
The Asian American Law Journal (AALJ) is one of only two law journals in the United States focusing on Asian American communities in its publication agenda. Known as the Asian Law Journal until 2007, AALJ was first published in October 1993 in a joint publication with the California Law Review. AALJ's first independent issue was published in May 1994.
The Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law is the premier criminal law review in the western United States. BJCL is at the core of Berkeley's vibrant criminal law community, which also includes the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, the Death Penalty Clinic, Advocates for Youth Justice, and students who are ideologically diverse but uniformly dedicated to excellence in criminal law.
The Berkeley Business Law Journal (BBLJ) is a Berkeley Law student-run organization that publishes an annual print journal, a blog, and hosts events related to business law. BBLJ works closely with the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) to further enhance our presence nationwide.
The Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern & Islamic Law provides a forum for the discussion of legal and philosophical issues relating to the Middle East and Islamic world. The Journal welcomes timely and original scholarship on the Middle East, Islamic law, and related topics. As a digital journal, we accept and publish submissions throughout the academic year.
The Berkeley Journal of Entertainment and Sports Law (BJESL) is committed to providing a wide selection of intellectual and practical discussions from scholars, practitioners, and students on current legal issues that impact the sports and entertainment industries, domestically and internationally.
The James Patterson McBaine Honors Competition is Berkeley Law’s premier advanced-level moot court competition and is open to all Berkeley Law second- and third-year JD students. The competition format is modeled after United States Supreme Court practice. Cases chosen for the competition involve cutting-edge issues of great public importance. For the final round, we have hosted esteemed judges from the state and federal bench, notably: Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor; D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel, Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood, Ninth Circuit Judges Marsha Berzon, Morgan Christen, William Fletcher, Sandra Ikuta, Mary Murguia, and Paul Watford; Northern District of California Judges Charles Breyer, Edward Chen, Jon Tigar, and Claudia Wilken; California Supreme Court Justices Kathryn Werdegar, Carol Corrigan, and Goodwin Liu; Alaska Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree; and others. Semifinal round judges have included California Court of Appeal justices and other federal court judges.
2017 McBaine Competition Information
The case for the 2017 James Patterson McBaine Honors Moot Court Competition is Bell v. Itawamba County School Board, a First Amendment challenge to a school disciplinary ruling involving the right to freedom of speech. The case concerns the restriction by school officials of a student’s off-campus speech, where that speech contained threatening, intimidating, and harassing statements against two teachers.
Berkeley Law’s clinics—eight in the community, five in the law school—are directed by full-time faculty members who are highly regarded experts in their fields. Classroom seminars provide students with the necessary foundation in relevant law and practice, while hands-on casework for clients builds critical lawyering skills. We choose students for their passion and potential—ensuring that the clinics are staffed by students and faculty who are committed to learning and justice.
It offers the following clinics:
Death Penalty Clinic
The Death Penalty Clinic offers law students a rich opportunity for hands-on training; seeks justice for individual clients by providing them with the highest quality representation; and exposes and tackles problems endemic to the administration of the death penalty.
East Bay Community Law Center
The East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) is the community-based component of Berkeley Law’s Clinical Program. EBCLC was founded by Berkeley Law students in 1988 to provide legal services to low-income and underrepresented members of the community near the law school.
Environmental Law Clinic
The Environmental Law Clinic bolsters Berkeley Law’s outstanding environmental law program and clinical program by providing hands-on experience to students representing real-world clients in environmental advocacy matters. Many Clinic projects involve collaboration with Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment and other campus departments.
International Human Rights Law Clinic
The International Human Rights Law Clinic allows students to design and implement creative solutions to advance the global struggle for the protection of human rights.
Policy Advocacy Clinic
In the Policy Advocacy Clinic, interdisciplinary teams of law and public policy students pursue innovative, multimodal and systemic strategies on behalf of underrepresented individuals and groups to advance social justice, equity, and inclusion.
Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic
The Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic offers law students the unparalleled opportunity to learn about lawyering, government institutions and the complexities involved in technology-related law, while also providing representation to individuals, nonprofits, and consumer groups that could not otherwise obtain counsel.
Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)
|Private sector (25th-75th percentile)||$150,000 - $160,000|
|Median in the private sector||$160,000|
|Median in public service||$53,790|
|Graduates known to be employed at graduation||80.2%|
|Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation||87.1%|
|Graduates Employed In||Percentage|
|Business and Industry||2.3%|
|Public Interest Organizations||15.4%|
Judicial Externships – Students work part-time or full-time for local, federal or state judges and chambers in the San Francisco/Bay Area. Students externing for a judge usually work 16 to 40 hours per week over 14 weeks for 4 to10 units of credit. There is a required accompanying 1-unit seminar that meets for a full-day at the beginning of the semester and then several times during the semester. Students apply directly to the judges or judicial chambers for an extern position.
In this course, students work on real cases, either at faculty-supervised field placements or under the direct supervision of Nancy Lemon, DVP Director, while enrolled in a classroom component taught by Ms. Lemon.
Students may choose a placement at one of various legal agencies in the Bay Area. The work focuses on restraining orders, family law, welfare, immigration, employment issues, prosecution of batterers, or post-conviction issues of battered women in state prisons. Students also work with the instructor on policy matters, including writing amicus briefs.
At the placements, students interview clients; draft restraining orders, memoranda, and motions; represent clients at hearings; argue motions; and research policy issues. They may also attend meetings with attorneys, government officials, judges and legislators.