A lot has changed since Santa Clara University opened its School of Law in 1911. Back then, fewer than 15 men— all of them white— registered for classes. Now, enrollment tops 900, with women accounting for 48 percent of students, and the entire law school among the 10 most diverse in the nation.
“In the past century, we have also become a school of national prominence. During our first 50 years, we were focused on meeting the needs of the region. Over time our reputation has grown along with that of Silicon Valley. Even today, more than a third of the judges in the county are our alumni,” notes Senior Assistant Dean Julia Yaffee.
Content has evolved with the times as well. In the early 20th century, high tech was still science fiction. Privacy concerns centered on issues such as a “peeping Tom” looking in your window, not your e-mail account. Property was tangible, not intellectual.
What has remained constant is the school’s commitment to social justice. “The Jesuit mission includes such a strong commitment to social justice, that it has certainly pervaded the law school and its student body from the beginning,” says Gerald Uelmen, professor and former dean of the School of Law.
Last year, law school students provided more than 11,000 hours of legal pro bono work, according to Yaffee.
Several events are being planned to celebrate the centennial, beginning with a special convocation in Mayer Theater at 5 p.m. on Oct. 18.
Professor Uelmen is orchestrating a dramatic reenactment of the 1912 “trial of the century” of Clarence Darrow for bribing jurors. More details will be released as they become available, including the location and date as well as the names of the legal all-stars who will be participating.
For more information about centennial events as well as historic photos of the School of Law, visit the website.