Legal Briefs: Whittier Law School on trajectory of success

The Rock, May 15, 2014

This article originally appeared in Whittier College’s The Rock magazine. It is republished here in full.

IT’S A NEW DAY AT WHITTIER LAW SCHOOL, as some of the major changes implemented within the last few years are now proving successful. According to Dean Penelope Bryan, who spearheaded these changes, “We have deliberately shaped our entire curriculum around our students and their career ambitions.”

New Curriculum Receives National Attention
Whittier Law School is introducing a groundbreaking new curriculum called “Experience the Law.” The majority of required courses in this new curriculum are taught in an experiential manner, so that students apply the concepts they learn in class. This has attracted national attention to the Law School as one of the most innovative in the United States. Students are also receiving hands-on experience in the Kiesel Advocacy Center, Whittier Law School’s state-of-the-art courtroom which opened last Spring.

Whittier Law School graduates Randily Nordstrom '12 and Amishi Hise '12 relish a moment of celebration on stage.

Ranked Most Diverse Law School in California
In the newest U.S. News and World Report rankings, Whittier Law School is cited as the most diverse law school in California, tied for third most diverse law school in the nation. In the Princeton Review roundup, the school earned fifth place in “Best Environment for Law Students.” This year, Whittier Law School has an incoming class composed of 52% students of color.

“Diversity is at the heart of our school,” says Bryan. “We are committed to increasing diversity in the legal profession.”

To support these efforts, there are 10 student clubs dedicated to celebrating diversity on campus.

Students Acquire Prestigious Fellowships
Whittier Law students are increasingly nabbing competitive fellowships that are open to select law schools throughout California. For example, Whittier Law students recently landed two of the nine Employee Justice Fellowships awarded by the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). In addition, three recent alumni are performing post-graduate fellowships at the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

Success Attracts Students
Trending last fall across the nation, law schools experienced an average decline in enrollment of 11%, with some California schools seeing a drop as much as 37%. In comparison, and building on momentum, Whittier Law School has seen only a minimal enrollment decline of 2.6%.

“We have seen a lot of interest from prospective students so far this year,” says Tom McColl, associate dean of enrollment management and administration. “Word has gotten out about the innovative things we’re doing here at Whittier Law School. People have noticed we’re on an upward trajectory.”

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