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100 Years of the USF School of Law

The University of San Francisco School of Law has experienced a remarkable transformation since its founding in 1912 when it opened its doors in a small building on Market Street. There, a few faculty members taught just 39 students. One century and three locations later, the law school is now housed in two beautiful buildings, with more than 700 JD and LLM students, and approximately 40 full-time faculty and program directors who inspire students to make a difference in a the world, as thousands of our graduates have done since our founding.
Click on the items below to see the full history of the USF Law School.


Sept 18, 1912

The law school opens its doors as University of St. Ignatius College of Law.

The inaugural class consists of 49 men. The school was housed on the sixth floor of Grant Building on the corner of Market and Seventh streets in downtown San Francisco, where San Francisco's City Hall and Superior Courts also were located.


June 1916

The first class of students graduates after completing a four-year evening curriculum.

One such graduate was Raymond Feely, S.J., who would go on to serve as a faculty member, dean, regent, and academic vice president at USF.



The law school moves from the Grant building to a temporary structure known as the 'shirt factory'.

It is located on the corner of Hayes and Shrader streets, where St. Ignatious College had temporarily relocated after the 1906 earthquake and fire. 



Alumnus Chan Chung Wing, a member of the law school's first graduating class, becomes the first Asian American to be admitted to the California Bar.

Wing founded a successful law practice specializing in immigration law, and became a banker and founded an insurance company.



The university and the law school face dire financial crisis due to the drop in enrollment during World War I.

The destruction of St. Ignatius Church and College in the 1906 earthquake and fires adds to the financial troubles. A successful, multiyear fundraising drive pulled the institution back into financial stability.



The law school moves to the newly constructed Liberal Arts Building.

The building, later known as Campion Hall and now named Kalmanovitz Hall, cost $300,000 to construct. It housed the entire St. Ignatius College including the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Commerce and Finance. The College of Law, by then enrolling 251 students in its exclusively evening program, occupied the third floor.



Women for the first time are admitted to the College of Law.

The law school’s co-educational program came 37 years before the university's regular undergraduate day program began to enroll women.


St. Ignatius College changes its name to the University of San Francisco.

Despite the onset of the Depression fall enrollment at the College of Law held steady at 265 students.


August 1934

The first full-time dean of the College of Law hired.

The first dean was Lewis Cassidy, a Harvard graduate and professor of law at Georgetown University. His starting salary was $4,500 a year. He would face great challenges, including a 36 percent decline in enrollment due to the Great Depression and higher standards from the American Bar Association.

May 1935

The American Bar Association offers provisional accreditation to the USF College of Law.

USF was one of a select group of California law colleges to receive that accreditation.

Jan 1936

After continuing conflicts between Dean Cassidy and law college Regent Raymond Feely, S.J. over budget and faculty hiring, Cassidy is asked to resign.

He refused to resign, the issue went to the board of trustees, which was composed almost entirely of Jesuits, and they voted to cancel Cassidy's four-year contract. During his two years as dean, however, Cassidy hired three new full-time law professors, bringing the total to six.


The USF College of Law becomes one of only five law colleges in California and the only one in San Francisco, to be accredited by all three accrediting agencies.

These agencies are the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and the California State Bar.

Fall 1945

Enrollment jumps 200 percent to 324, after sharp drops during the height of World War II.

December-1950December 1950

The law school moves to the newly constructed Gleeson Library.

May-1961May 1961

Groundbreaking ceremony is held for Kendrick Hall.

Sept-1962September 29, 1962

The law school marks the 50th anniversary of its founding and dedicates Kendrick Hall.

The celebration featured a keynote address by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Racial tensions in Mississippi kept him in Washington the weekend of the celebration, so he delivered his speech via telephone and public address system hook-up to the audience gathered at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.


Reflecting a growing consciousness of contemporary social justice issues, the USF School of Law developed several programs aimed at underserved populations.

One such program is the Defender Workshop. With funds from the Ford Foundation, it was organized as a service to lawyers assisting indigent clients in criminal clients, with law students assisting with client interviews, legal research, investigations, and writing. Additional legal aid programs were established throughout the 1960s including an Urban Problems Legal Clinic supervised by Professor Robert Talbot.

April-1970April 1970

Law students establish The Forum, a student newspaper.

April-1971April 1971

C. Delos Putz, a 33-year-old assistant dean at NYU School of Law, is appointed dean.

Challenges he faces include an enrollment increase beyond Kendrick Hall’s capacity, a shortage of need-based scholarships, and student demand for greater input on law school decisions.


The Criminal Law Clinic is established.

The clinic works together with the Marin County Public Defender’s Office, San Quentin Prison, and the San Franisco Barrister’s Club and is supervised by Professors Ron Micon and Steven Shatz.


Ken Lloyd appointed director of admissions.

With the support of Dean Putz, a special admissions program flourishes and minority enrollment increases under Lloyd’s leadership.

May-1973May 1973

Law faculty announce they will form a union.

The move comes in response to the univeristy’s proposed budget cuts, faculty salary freezes, and high student to faculty ratio. Professor Tom McCarthy is appointed chair of the USF Association of Law Professors.

October 1973

A settlement is reached between the university and law students, who had sued claiming the budget cuts compromised the quality of their legal education.

The settlement restored some financial aid, promised to increase the number of full-time faculty to 22 by fall 1974, maintained all elective courses, restored placement services, and allowed the law school to engage in independent fundraising.


Student diversity increases.

Minority enrollment up from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 1975, and female enrollment up from 8 percent to 25 percent during the same period.


Paul McKaskle, a professor at the USF School of Law since 1971, is named dean.


Dean McKaskle resigns as dean to return to the classroom and Joseph Henke, a USF School of Law professor since 1970 is appointed acting dean.

March 1982March 1982

A new, three-story wing to Kendrick Hall is completed.

The new wing was financed with a $1 million fundraising campaign that began under the leadership of Dean McKaskle. The addition was needed in order to accommodate surging enrollment.

July 1982July 1982

David Ratner, a visiting professor at the USF School of Law and former Cornell Law School professor, is appointed dean.

September 1987September 1987

The Law school celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding by hosting a session of the California Supreme Court on campus.

In addition, the school dedicated a new moot court room, held a convocation to honor notable alumni, and celebrated with a dinner in the grand ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel.

August 1989August 1989

Jay Folberg, a law professor at Northwestern School of Law, is appointed dean.

September 1989September 1989

The USF School of Law for the first time enrolls more women (348) than men (335).

Ethnic diversity also grows, with 58 Asian students, 33 African Americans, and 39 Hispanics.


The USF Law Clinic, originally founded in 1972 by Professors Shatz and Micon, grows into a teaching law firm with 24 students per semester.


The Judicial Externship Program becomes increasingly popular since its inception in 1972, with 20 to 30 students now participating in the program each semester.
March 1999

March 1999

Ground is broken for a new law library, made possible by a $3.2 million gift from Arthur Zief, class of 1946.

August 1999August 1999

Jeffrey Brand, a professor at the USF School of Law since 1984 and founder of the Center for Law and Global Justice, is appointed the law school’s 17th dean.

2000August 2000

The Dorraine Zief Law Library opens.


The Keta Taylor Kolby Death Penalty Project is founded by Professor Steven Shatz.

The program sends students to work with capital defense attorneys in the American South each summer.


A comprehensive renovation of Kendrick Hall is completed.

In recognition of the $3.25 million gift from the Koret Foundation to underpin the project, the buildings that comprise the law school are named the Koret Law Center.


Julie Nice TimelineAs several distinguished, long-time professors including William Bassett, Delos Putz, and Paul McKaskle retire, a new wave faculty joins USF. 

New faces include Julie Nice, Bill Ong Hing, Jesse Markham, and Tristin Green.They join a faculty that is transforming with many new professors who are noted and productive scholars as well as accomplished teachers.

August 2010

Joshua DavisProfessor Joshua Davis is named associate dean for faculty scholarship, a new position reflecting the faculty’s enhanced scholarly production and reputation.

April 2011

Richard Leo TimelineProfessor Richard Leo awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his research on wrongful convictions.

August 2012

The USF School of Law’s centennial celebration begins.