A Letter from Dean Ferruolo

Giving to USD School of Law

Stephen C. Ferruolo headshot

Despite the challenges confronting legal education, USD School of Law remains the crown jewel of both the University of San Diego and the San Diego business and legal community.  The school’s enduring reputation for excellence was built over the past five decades by a national-ranked law faculty and the notable achievements of many distinguished alumni who are recognized leaders in a wide variety of fields.  USD enjoys the competitive advantage of being the dominant law school in the innovative and diverse San Diego region, and has also been expanding its profile nationally and globally, giving the School of Law a strong and solid foundation for its future.

Throughout its history, USD School of Law has been a leader in innovative, clinical and experiential legal education.  Forty-five years ago, USD established its first legal clinic, with the dual purpose of providing students with practical legal experience and serving the legal needs of the San Diego community.  We now have ten client service clinics, including the new Workers’ Rights Clinic, the recently expanded Veterans Clinic, and the relaunched Entrepreneurship Clinic.  Despite budgetary constraints, we have also continued to enhance our curriculum, and our faculty remains steadfastly committed to improving what and how we teach and better preparing our students for the bar exam and the job market. 

Responding to the growing demands for legal specialization, we have designed ten legal practice concentrations and significantly expanded the number of specialized courses we offer, including a new Tax Planning Lab developed and taught in partnership with Sempra Energy and KPMG and a Medical Malpractice course developed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente.  This year, we have incorporated experiential learning into our first-year curriculum by introducing an Experiential Advocacy Practicum that is adding teams of practitioners to our faculty to teach 1L students practical litigation and transactional skills, such as interviewing clients, drafting and negotiation.  The launch of this practicum is supported by a generous gift from alumnus George Strong, ’74 (JD), and his wife, Annsley.  This year, we will be actively seeking to establish additional partnerships and find new sources of external funding to support continued innovation and provide the resources needed to train our students for successful legal careers.

Although law school applications appear to have stabilized after several years of decline, the competition to recruit and retain qualified students has grown even more intense.  Increased scholarship support remains our top fundraising priority.  Since 2012, we have been able to significantly grow the number of privately funded scholarships, and we now award more than 70 endowed and named scholarships each year.  Our ability to award these scholarships has become essential to maintaining the quality, academic strength and diversity of our student body.  These scholarships also have a very real impact on our students’ lives.  By lessening the burden of law school indebtedness, scholarship awards make it possible for graduates to pursue their chosen careers in public interest and other fields where lawyers are critically needed.

I hope you will consider supporting one of our endowed scholarships or establishing a new scholarship, either by making a multi-year commitment of at least $5,000 or establishing your own endowed fund.  A named scholarship can honor or memorialize anyone designated by you, including a beloved family member or favorite law professor, and be awarded based on criteria you establish.  Let me cite just a few examples of recently-funded scholarships: 

  • David Casey, ’74 (JD), has endowed a law school scholarship in honor of his mother, Alberta Casey, one of the first women to attend USD;  
  • John Learnard, ’70 (JD), and Virginia Nelson, ’79 (JD), established and have continued, along with other dedicated alumni, to fund an endowed scholarship in honor of Professor Lou Kerig, remembered for his enthusiastic support of the intramural softball program, awarded to an outstanding student in Evidence, who also has demonstrated financial need;
  • A group of alumni and law firms have jointly funded an annual named scholarship and have started funding an endowed scholarship to be awarded to LGBT students and other students supportive of an inclusive and diverse community; and
  • Michael Lurie, ’93 (JD), and his wife, Karen, funded a multi-year $5,000 scholarship to be awarded to a student with a demonstrated interest in social responsibility and causes related to the intersection of law, business, and/or government.

Funding a scholarship is a meaningful way for you to give something back to the law school; a scholarship is also an investment in the future of our law students, the legal profession and our community.

In addition to funding a scholarship, there are many other ways you can designate your gift to have a direct and meaningful impact on our students.  Among these, I want to highlight a few of our top priorities for 2016-17:

  • Funding curricular initiatives, including new courses and programs to improve our bar passage and job placement results;
  • Supporting our clinical programs, including the expansion of the Veterans Clinic and the relaunch of the Entrepreneurship Clinic;
  • Providing travel and living stipends to enable students to take advantage of valuable, but often unpaid, externship opportunities, including those offered through the Semester in Washington, D.C. Externship Program, as well as to pursue study or work opportunities abroad;
  • Launching the Center for Health Law Policy & Bioethics, organizing the first San Diego health law symposium and supporting a faculty director and student research fellows; and
  • Enabling us to provide our outstanding faculty with support to continue to do impactful scholarship, innovative teaching, and important public service and effective public policy advocacy, individually and through our centers and institutes.

I remain enthusiastic about USD School of Law and its promising future.  I am proud of what we have been able to achieve during the past five years thanks to your support and generosity, and I am looking forward to another successful year.

With my sincere thanks and best wishes,

Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean and Professor of Law


Development and Donor Relations
Guadalupe Hall, Room 202
Phone: (619) 260-4692
Fax: (619) 260-2219


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