Dean: Jacob H. Rooksby, J.D., Ph.D.
In 1912, the Trustees of Gonzaga University established the Gonzaga University School of Law with the active support of many prominent members of the bench and bar in Washington State. In its first century, the School of Law produced many exceptional lawyers, and it is committed to an equally exceptional second century. Gonzaga Law is fully accredited by the American Bar Association, which entitles graduates to take the bar exam in any state. Gonzaga Law is also a member of the Association of American Law Schools.
Objectives of Gonzaga University School of Law
Gonzaga Law belongs to a long and distinguished tradition of law schools which deliver a humanistic, Jesuit education rooted in the principles of intellectual inquiry, fairness, justice, and respect for human dignity. The school is committed to preserving this tradition, a tradition that informs each aspect of the student experience.
Just as the school challenges its students to understand the knowledge of the past, it understands that a firm grasp of the innovations of the present is also necessary in order to better serve society. Gonzaga emphasizes the education and development of the whole person and works to instill in its students a strong commitment to social justice as it encourages its students to take individual initiative and personal responsibility for the betterment of their communities.
The school also recognizes its responsibility to the public and to the legal profession. As a result, Gonzaga Law works to prepare its graduates to be analytical thinkers, accomplished writers, and creative problem-solvers. Gonzaga graduates will be able to translate their thoughts into effective, productive action on behalf of their clients.
For those students who may not want to follow a traditional career path, the school’s J.D. curriculum provides students with the tools to succeed in a wide range of other career fields.
One of the school's greatest strengths is the dedication and commitment of the faculty and staff which provides students with personal, individual attention. Each student’s educational journey will be guided by distinguished and dedicated faculty and shaped by the paths of the many justices, judges, advocates, and leaders who are proud Gonzaga Law alumni.
Gonzaga Law believes that the courtroom can be a powerful classroom and that practical skills should accompany intellectual inquiry. This is why Gonzaga takes pride in providing students with a quality legal education which includes practical, hands-on experience that will ease their transition from the academic world to the world of legal practice. Gonzaga Law graduates are known for being zealous advocates and community leaders.
Gonzaga Law offers a full-time, three-year, 90 semester credit degree. In some circumstances, students can take advantage of flexible scheduling to complete their degrees in four or five years.
Gonzaga Law also offers an Executive J.D. program which allows students to earn their degree in two years rather than three. Because the program requires students to carry a full course load for six consecutive semesters, students are required to apply eight of their credits towards experiential learning. This provides the students with the chance to learn outside the classroom in a legal setting while taking their accelerated schedule into consideration.
Of the 90 units necessary for graduation, 49 are required; the remaining units may be selected from electives and seminars. All degree credits must be completed within five years of matriculation.
Gonzaga's legal education program is deliberately focused on educating the whole person. The rigorous, well-rounded curriculum focuses on legal analysis, problem-solving, values, and ethics. Equally important is the emphasis on practical experience, enabling students to develop real-world lawyering skills.
As part of Gonzaga’s unique, practice-oriented first-year program, students undertake skills labs in litigation (fall) and transactional work (spring). Gonzaga Law requires students to complete a rigorous, two-year legal research and writing program that helps students develop the writing and analytical skills so valued by employers and so necessary to the practice.
The school offers upper-division electives in many different areas of the law, including: trial and appellate advocacy, education law, family law, employment law, environmental/natural resource law, business and commercial law, and international law. The classes are taught by nationally and internationally, recognized faculty whose scholarship adds an important dimension to their teaching.
To complete their education all students are required to engage in experiential learning, either through working in a professional externship or in Gonzaga's legal clinic, during their second or third year of studies. Gonzaga Law students have externed with courts as well as prosecutor and public defender offices at the local, state, and federal level throughout the state and country including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Washington Supreme Court, the Federal Trade Commission, the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and other state and federal agencies. Recent placements in non-profit entities include the Northwest Justice Project and Spokane’s Center for Justice.
Gonzaga Law has implemented limited externship placements with for-profit law firms.
In 2018, Gonzaga Law founded the Center for Civil and Human Rights to provide students, scholars, and community leaders with opportunities to explore and address issues relating to civil and human rights through research, education, and community engagement. This Center complements students’ classroom work and allows students to dive deeply into legal and community issues.
University Legal Assistance
Another choice that Gonzaga Law students have for experiential learning is the school’s University Legal Assistance (ULA) program. ULA is an on-campus clinic that provides legal services to low-income persons and is a major provider of pro bono legal services in the Spokane area. Clinical positions are available to any student in good standing and students are encouraged to take an active role.
In ULA, students work on real cases with real clients under the supervision of clinical instructors who are licensed attorneys. Students can appear in court on behalf of clients under Rule 9 of the Washington State Bar Association’s Court Rules after they have completed two years of course work (60 semester credits) and been approved by the WSBA.
Gonzaga Law clinical students have argued appeals before the Washington State Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. They have testified before Congressional committees in Washington D.C. about the impact of pending legislation. They have appeared in Kalispel Tribal Court as advocates and argued on behalf of their clients. They have helped clients who needed health care services, help with housing, estate planning services, and parenting plans. They helped clients who dreamed of starting their own businesses and clients who did not want to face the IRS alone. In ULA, every student makes a difference.
On-campus clinical offerings include business law, elder law, Indian law, immigration law, tax law, and environmental law and land use.
Dual Degree Programs
Gonzaga Law and the Graduate School of Business offer dual-degree programs leading to the Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (J.D./MBA), the Juris Doctor/Master of Accountancy (J.D./MAcc), and the Juris Doctor/Master of Science in Taxation (J.D./MSTax). These programs train attorneys with a business background to provide skilled leadership in the sophisticated and challenging world of modern business transactions. Application must be made to the Gonzaga University Graduate School of Business as well as to the law school.
There is also a Juris Doctor/Master of Social Work (J.D./MSW) dual-degree program which is designed to prepare law and social work professionals to practice either profession competently and to enable them to use this unique amalgamation of skills in new and enriched ways. This four-year program (three years for students with "Advanced Standing" in Social Work) will lead successful students to a J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law and a Master's in Social Work from Eastern Washington University.
Graduates of the J.D./MSW dual-degree program will be skilled professionals who can make significant contributions in areas such as public benefits, mental health services, children's services, services for people with disabilities, and more. The program meets all applicable American Bar Association and Council on Social Work Education accreditation guidelines. Admission to the J.D./MSW program is highly competitive.
Students must apply and be admitted to both Gonzaga University School of Law and the Eastern Washington University School of Social Work and must meet each school's established admissions criteria. This includes qualifying scores on standardized tests, such as the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). A candidate's application must be approved by both institutions before the candidate is considered for admission to this dual-degree program.
Gonzaga's educational philosophy is based on the centuries-old Ignatian model of educating the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. Gonzaga's student organizations are diverse in nature and, whatever students’ interests or career goals, there are activities available that will enhance their knowledge and abilities that also contribute to their community.
Gonzaga is a major player in national moot court competitions and fields a variety of moot court teams. Students also have an opportunity to participate in the Linden Cup, Gonzaga's prestigious intra-school moot court competition. The student-run Gonzaga Law Review is circulated throughout the country, and the Gonzaga Journal of International Law, the online international law journal, receives submissions from around the world.
The Student Bar Association is a strong, active organization that encourages student involvement, and there are abundant opportunities to participate in student organizations, legal fraternities, public service projects, and other activities. Programs such as the Juvenile Records Sealing Project and the Moderate Means Program allow even first-year students to spend time helping members of the Spokane community access legal services.
Gonzaga Law sponsors a summer law program in Florence, Italy where students can take classes in subjects including international human rights law, international mediation, and comparative criminal law, and comparative women’s rights.
Physical Facilities and Library
Rising from the banks of the beautiful Spokane River, the Gonzaga Law building, which opened in May 2000, provides a stunning setting for research and learning. The facilities offer a variety of classroom and library environments to support interactive teaching and learning methods. Features throughout the building encourage students to linger to talk and debate ideas in beautiful outdoor spaces, roof plazas and balconies, and comfortable lounges.
Technology is readily available and a wireless network provides the highway for audio-visual, computer, and telecommunications technology. The mix of classrooms, study, seminar rooms, and clinical spaces provide flexibility to integrate the best of traditional law teaching and collaborative and innovative learning. Gonzaga's fine traditions of advocacy training and moot court competitions are promoted in the impressive Barbieri Courtroom.
Chastek Library is a warm and inviting legal learning and research environment filled with natural light designed to be conducive to individual and group study. The library's rich collection of print and electronic resources supports the research and scholarly needs of students, faculty, and the wider legal community.
Gonzaga Law endeavors to attract students with ambitious minds, professional motivation, and commitment to the highest ethics and values of the legal profession. A faculty committee reviews all applications and does not restrict their consideration to impersonal statistics. An applicant's unique qualities, such as work and life experiences, personal accomplishments, and the opinions of others as reflected in letters of recommendation, will also be considered.
Gonzaga Law seeks to enroll a diverse student body to ensure that the school and the legal profession are enriched through the participation of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Those individuals who want the admission review committee to consider diversity factors in their application process should provide information about their experiences and backgrounds in their applications.
Students who are in good standing at another ABA-accredited law school may apply for admission to Gonzaga Law with advanced standing.
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