Message from the Dean

Thank you for your interest in the University of San Diego School of Law.

This is a great time to be coming to law school, especially at the University of San Diego.  Over the past eighteen months, we have seen a substantial improvement in the legal job market and in the opportunities available to our graduates, in the San Diego region and throughout California and the West, as well as elsewhere nationally (most notably in Washington, D.C. for those who have participated in our new Washington DC Externship Program) and internationally.  This continuing upturn in job offerings makes me optimistic about the prospects our students will have upon graduation. 

While our entering classes have become smaller, we continue to be highly selective, carefully choosing highly-credentialed and highly-motivated students who bring a wide diversity of backgrounds and experience to our law school.   Our commitment is to provide each of these students with an excellent legal education on a par with the best law schools in the world and professional training that combines academic rigor with hands-on, practical experience that will give them the skills needed for successful legal careers.

This commitment to excellence begins with our faculty.  Not only do our professors consistently rank among the nation’s top law school faculties in their scholarly achievements, they are highly valued by both our students and alumni as dedicated teachers and mentors.  Recent additions to our distinguished faculty include:

  • Professor Howard Abrams, a noted expert on the taxation of corporations and partnerships, who joined our faculty as Warren Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of Tax Programs in August 2014, after spending a year as a visiting tax professor at Harvard Law School.
  • Noted tax specialists Professor Miranda Fleischer and Professor Victor Fleischer, who joined our faculty from the University of Colorado Law School in August 2013.
  • Professor Horacio Spector, formerly provost and dean of the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella Law School in Buenos Aires, who teaches courses in the areas of Latin American and international law and jurisprudence, legal theory and law and economics. 
  • Professor Adam Hirsch, one of the nation’s leading experts on trusts and estates, who teaches a section on property to our first-year students, as well as courses on trusts and estates and estate planning.
  • Professor Sharmila (Mila) Sohoni, who joined our faculty in January 2014 and who will be teaching civil procedure to first-year students, as well as a very topical seminar on the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) and the Law.
  • Professor Dov Fox, who, since joining our faculty in August 2013, has been leading the faculty’s commitment to expanding our health law curriculum and whose seminars on Bioethics and the Law and Reproductive Rights and the Law have already become very popular among our students. 

In addition to tax, international law and health law, we have significantly expanded our curriculum in the areas of intellectual property, finance, corporate transactions, criminal law and labor and employment law.  We now offer eight concentrations, including a recently-added concentration in Environmental and Energy Law, and expect to approve a new concentration in Health Law this year.

Complementing the law school's strong academic curriculum is a broad range of programs, centers, clinics and institutes that are unequaled in providing our students with opportunities to gain hands-on, practical legal experience.  You will be able to learn written and oral advocacy skills through our Appellate Moot Court program, our National Mock Trial Team (which has been selected as one of the top in the Ninth Federal Judicial Circuit for the past 20 years), or our new Supreme Court Clinic.  If you are interested in pursuing a career in business or corporate law, you can compete in the National Transactional Law Meet; or, if your interest is in international commercial arbitration, join the Vis Moot Arbitration Team (VICAM) and participate in their annual competitions in Hong Kong and Vienna.  Through our nationally renowned Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), you can focus on gaining expertise on administrative law and state regulatory agencies.  Our eleven client-focused legal clinics will enable you to assist low-income individuals and families, veterans or non-profits and start-up companies.   Business-oriented students can gain valuable hands-on practice experience with a law firm or company placement through our Technology Entrepreneurship Clinic, Intellectual Property Law Clinic.  Other innovative  programs include the Children's Advocacy Institute (CAI), the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Markets and the Center for Corporate and Securities Law, which provide opportunities for our students to work with full-time and adjunct faculty on important research projects and policy issues. 

At USD School of Law, we also offer expanding opportunities for our students to gain valuable legal experience away from campus.  Our law school’s location close to both downtown San Diego (where state and federal courts, other government agencies and most litigation-focused firms are located) and the La Jolla area near UCSD (where many of the technology and biotechnology companies, and the law firms who serve them, are located) makes it relatively easy for our full-time students to balance course work with an internship or part-time employment (as well as for our part-time students to get conveniently back and forth to their full-time jobs without long commute times). In addition, our Washington, D.C. Externship Program will enable you to spend a full semester interning at a government or public interest agency, an experience that will enhance your prospects for landing the job that you want, whether in Washington, back in California or elsewhere. As a former business lawyer who negotiated deals internationally, I am a great believer in the value of "global fluency" and have been urging more of our students to study abroad (as I did when I was in law school). In the past two years, we have added several international student-faculty exchange programs and now have exchange programs with eight leading law schools in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. These, in addition to our summer study abroad programs, give our students unparalleled opportunities to gain global fluency and to qualify for positions in the expanding global legal marketplace.  Through the generous support of the Gwen and Tom Price Family, we now can offer many of our students who study abroad fellowships to help cover their additional costs.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of USD School of Law. Throughout the year, we will be celebrating the successes of our more than 13,000 graduates, highlighting many who have become leaders in their fields and whose professional achievements have been instrumental in establishing the outstanding reputation our law school enjoys regionally, nationally and internationally.

I left practice and became dean of USD School of Law in 2011 because I believe in the value of legal education and in the vital importance of training future generations of lawyers to do all the critically important things that a civil society and thriving economy needs lawyers to do. Whenever I meet with prospective or new law students, I am energized by the enthusiasm, ambition and commitment that make them want to come to law school and join the legal profession. For the reasons I have discussed above, I also am enthusiastic in encouraging them to come to USD.  

I invite you to learn more about USD School of Law, first by using this website and then by coming to visit. When you do, you will find out more about why I am so enthusiastic about being dean and why I believe this is such a great place to be a law student and to prepare for a successful career as a lawyer.

Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean and Professor of Law


Office of the Dean
Warren Hall, Room 200
Phone: (619) 260-4527

Dean Ferroulo in Grace Courtroom