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History of Pacific McGeorge

The University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law has grown into an internationally recognized leader in the field of legal education since its establishment nearly 90 years ago. Its location in the capital city of California, Sacramento, has shaped the school's focus on public law, international law, and advocacy.

Pacific McGeorge Today

Francis J. Mootz III is the current law school dean. The Pacific McGeorge faculty includes full-time and part-time professors who hold law degrees from schools such as Harvard, University of Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Pacific McGeorge, and Georgetown.

The Pacific McGeorge Legal Studies Center was opened in 2011 and houses the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library. The state-of-the-art library serves the Sacramento legal community of students, law clerks and members of the Sacramento County bench and bar.

In October 2011, PreLaw Magazine ranked Pacific McGeorge among its top twenty public interest law schools. The school was ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2013 as as a top international law school (#19 in the nation), and as the 26th best part-time program in the nation. Pacific McGeorge was also recognized by U.S. News for the diversity of its student population.

Pacific McGeorge has more than 13,000 alumni who work all over the world. The school has many alumni who have served or are serving as judges, justices, commissioners, referees and administrative law judges throughout the country. Two of the school's alumni are judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-highest court in the nation, and two are state Supreme Court justices in Nebraska and Nevada. 

In The Beginning

Pacific McGeorge School of Law began as a one-room night school in downtown Sacramento (L & 10th) in 1924, when it was founded as the Sacramento College of Law. Verne Adrian McGeorge was the founding dean and professor of law.  The first commencement in 1925 marked the graduation of five new attorneys. The first female graduate of the school was Rose Sheehan in 1927, marking the college as ahead of its time in diversity and inclusion. In 1929, the Board of Trustees renamed the school McGeorge College of Law in honor of its founder.

Succeeding McGeorge, Russell Harris was dean from 1930-1933. Gilford Rowland was dean from 1933-1937. Lawrence Dorety was dean from 1937 until the school closed during WWII. The school reopened in 1946 under Dean John Swan.  Dean Swan began to pursue a permanent home for McGeorge College of Law after several moves in downtown Sacramento.

Legacy of Leadership

In 1957, the influential Gordon D. Schaber became dean of McGeorge College of Law after Dean Swan's sudden death. Soon after, the Board of Trustees voted to move the school to a vacant well-baby clinic at the corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue in the Oak Park neighborhood. Today, the Pacific McGeorge campus has grown to 13 acres. The law-school only campus continues to be located in Oak Park, three miles southeast of the state Capitol building in Sacramento, California.

Dean Schaber guided the school through its emergence as a first-class law school for 34 years. In 1964, Schaber won accreditation by the Committee of Bar Examiners for the state of California. He recruited top-notch faculty, such as Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who taught constitutional law on the Sacramento campus from 1965-1988.

Emergence of McGeorge as a National Law School

McGeorge was accredited by the American Bar Association in 1968, paving the way for its rise to national prominence. In 1983 Pacific McGeorge became a member school in the Order of the Coif, the ABA's highest acknowledgement of academic excellence that 81 of 199 of its member schools have established. 

In 1972, the Pacific McGeorge Institute for Administrative Justice was created to meet a critical need for the California Department of Social Welfare. The institute, unique for a law school campus, has built a national reputation as a leading consultant on administrative hearing practices over the past 40 years. The IAJ contracts with state and federal agencies to design hearing procedures and management systems. It also trains administrative hearing officers, investigators and other personnel. One of its long-time major clients is the Social Security Administration, which annually sends hearing officers from all over the country to the Pacific McGeorge campus for 10-day training programs.

In 1984, the Victims of Crime Center was established on the Pacific McGeorge campus. This center provides a statewide, free service to crime victims. Pacific McGeorge students, under attorney supervision, provide information and referral to victims, their families, victim service providers, and victim advocates through the 1-800-VICTIMS toll-free number.

The ABA bestowed on Schaber its highest honor for service in legal education (The Kutak Award) in 1991, the year he stepped down as dean.  Dean Gerald Caplan succeeded Schaber in 1991. During Caplan's tenure, the Governmental Affairs program was established to capitalize on the school's location in Sacramento.  He expanded McGeorge's presence in intercollegiate Mock Trial competitions around the nation.  In 2002, Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker became the eighth dean of Pacific McGeorge.  Parker championed the expansion of student study and faculty exchanges in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Parker expanded externships and started new clinical programming in specialty areas such as immigration, mediation, and appellate advocacy. She launched strong collaborations with high schools to establish mentoring programs and law-themed curricula.

In 2012, Francis J. Mootz III, formerly of UNLV's William Boyd School of Law, became the ninth dean of Pacific McGeorge.

Affiliation with University of the Pacific

McGeorge merged with University of the Pacific as their school of law in 1966 and began offering day classes the following year. The original evening program for California leaders continues today, and is consistently recognized as one of the best part-time law programs in the nation.

Areas of Academic Distinction

Pacific McGeorge is world-renowned as a leader in the study of international law. Its master program in Transnational Business Practice counts 500 alumni around the globe. The school also offers annual summer programs for J.D. students in Salzburg, Austria, and Antiqua, Guatemala, which attracts law students from around the world.

Pacific McGeorge's location in Sacramento, California's capital city, is a benefit to students who want to study public law and governmental decision-making. The Pacific McGeorge Capital Center prepares students for careers in leadership and service through extensive externship and co-curricular opportunities.

Pacific McGeorge has a rigorous core curriculum and also offers students outstanding moot court, trial advocacy and clinical service programs. The school's legal clinics offer legal representation in several specialty areas to indigent populations through the Sacramento area. Students and supervising attorneys handle hundreds of civil cases a year through all phases, including trial and appeal.

Mission Statement

(As Approved by the Faculty, February 15, 2006)

The mission of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, is to:
Provide a student-centered education that prepares its graduates for productive, successful, and ethical careers in the legal profession, and for leadership in building a diverse society committed to global justice; and
Contribute to the improvement of the law through engaged scholarship and other forms of public service.