Thomas Jefferson School of Law

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Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law Logo.png
School typePrivate, Non-profit
DeanLinda Keller[1]
LocationSan Diego, California, United States
Enrollment326 (as of Oct 5, 2018)[2]
Faculty88 (40 Full-time and 48 adjunct[2]
Bar pass rate47% (October 2020 first-time bar takers)[3]

Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) is a private law school in San Diego, California. It offers a Juris Doctor and three Master of Laws programs, including one that is exclusively online,[4] as well as a combined J.D./M.B.A. with San Diego State University.

The school is not accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), following the ABA's withdrawal of approval in December 2019.[5][6] However, it is currently approved by the California State Bar’s Committee of Bar Examiners.[7] As a result, graduates are generally not able to take the bar or practice law outside of California.


The Thomas Jefferson School of Law was founded in 1969 as the San Diego campus of the Western State University College of Law and operated as such until 1995, when it became independent. It joined the Association of American Law Schools in 2008.[8] In January 2011, TJSL moved to a new, 305,000-square-foot (28,300 m2) building located in the East Village district of downtown San Diego.[9] In 2018, the school announced it would vacate its building as a cost-cutting measure, moving into an office building in downtown San Diego.[10]


TJSL received accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1996.[11] The ABA revoked the school's accreditation on June 10, 2019. This followed a public censure by the ABA in 2018 and a 2017 decision to place the school on probation for being out of compliance with the ABA requirement that schools admit only students who appear capable of earning a J.D. degree and passing the bar examination.[12][13] In October 2018, TJSL became a California state approved school, allowing its students to take the California Bar Exam.[14]


The program offers Master of Laws (LL.M.), Master of Science of Law (M.S.L) and JSD "Doctor of Laws or Juridical Science" degrees. Certificate Programs in International Financial Centers, United States Taxation, E-commerce, Anti-Money Laundering & Compliance, and Trusts and Estate Planning are available.[15] Faculty for the program are generally part-time and populated with industry professionals.[16] Students begin classes in August, attend the three-year, full-time program or the four-year, part-time program, and can accelerate graduation one semester by taking additional classes during the summer. Day and evening classes are offered.

Bar pass rate[edit]

Bar pass rates[edit]

The October 2020 California Bar pass rate for TJSL graduates was 47% for first time takers and 44% for repeat takers, vs. statewide averages of 74% and 43%, respectively.[17]

Costs and student debt[edit]

The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law for the 2018–2019 academic year is $77,660.[18] Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years at $297,652.[19]

According to U.S. News & World Report, the average indebtedness of 2018 graduates who incurred law school debt was $196,607 (not including undergraduate debt), and 92% of 2018 graduates took on debt. The average indebtedness of graduates who incurred law school debt is second-highest among US law schools.[20] The school's Associate Dean for Student Affairs has attributed the average debt level to the school's admittance of immigrants and those who are the first in their family to attend law school—people who are statistically more likely to lack individual or family resources.[21]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

ABA Employment Summary for 2018 Graduates[22]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed—Bar Passage Required (Full-Time, Long-Term)
Employed—Bar Passage Required (Part-Time and/or Short-Term)
Employed—J.D. Advantage
Employed—Professional Position
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed—Not Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 144 Graduates

According to Thomas Jefferson School of Law's official 2018 ABA-required disclosures, 19% of the Class of 2018 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[23]

In 2013, the National Law Journal reported the college has the worst unemployment rate after graduation (31.5%) amongst all law schools in the country.[24]

In January 2011, a New York Times article about the inability of many recent law school graduates to get jobs discussed Thomas Jefferson's claim that 92% of the class of 2009 was employed within nine months of graduation.[21] The school's claim was based on a survey of the class of 2009. (Under ABA rules, 25% of graduates who do not participate in employment surveys are counted as employed.).[21] The Wall Street Journal also ran a story in June 2012 listing TJSL as one of the 'bottom five' schools for 2011 graduate employment.[25]

In May 2011, Anna Alaburda filed a class-action lawsuit against her alma mater, alleging that the law school had committed fraud by publishing deceptive post-graduation employment statistics and salary data in order to bait new students into enrolling. Alaburda, a 2008 honors graduate, claimed that despite having graduated at the top of her class and passed the California bar exam, she was unable to find suitable legal employment, and had racked up more than $150,000 in student loan debt. This is the first time a law school would stand trial for allegedly inflating its employment statistics. The jury found in favor of TJSL with a 9–3 verdict.[26]

Center for Solo Practitioners[edit]

Since Fall 2012, TJSL has operated a lawyer incubator program called the Center for Solo Practitioners. The incubator provides space and support for selected alumni who are going into solo practice. It is also intended to help serve under-represented communities.[27]

At the 2013 annual meeting of the American Bar Association, the Center for Solo Practitioners was honored with an ABA award in recognition of "successful implementation of a project or program specifically targeted to solo and small-firm lawyers."[28]

Additional programs offered[edit]

Intellectual property[edit]

In 2009, TJSL initiated an Intellectual Property Fellowship Program[29] for students with undergraduate or advanced degrees in the hard sciences or engineering. The TJSL Center for Law and Intellectual Property has course offerings in copyright, patent, trademark and unfair competition law as well as cyberspace law, biotechnology law and bioethics, telecommunications and media law, and sports and entertainment law.[30]

International law[edit]

The Center for Global Legal Studies[31] offers a specialized program in international law.

Social Justice Center[edit]

The Center for Law and Social Justice is a research and teaching program in areas of public policy and law in its field.[32]

Notable people[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Linda M. Keller | Thomas Jefferson School of Law". Archived from the original on 2011-11-10.
  2. ^ a b "THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW—2018 Standard 509 Information Report". Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  3. ^[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ "How to enroll in America's first LLM Program".
  5. ^ "It's Official: Thomas Jefferson Law School Will Lose Its National Accreditation". Voice of San Diego. 2019-11-21. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  6. ^ Seltzer, Rick (June 12, 2019). "ABA Yanks Thomas Jefferson Accreditation". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "The State Bar of California". Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  8. ^ AALS Member Schools
  9. ^ "Local Law School's New Campus To Open Tuesday Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Is Relocating From Old Town". New 10 Now. 19 January 2011.
  10. ^ Sloan, Karen (May 31, 2018). "Law School Touting New $90M Digs in 2011 Now Housed in Office Building". The Recorder. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  11. ^ "ABA Approved Law Schools by Year". ABA website. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  12. ^ "Beset by Problems, Thomas Jefferson Law School is Trying to Avoid a Death Blow". 26 November 2018.
  13. ^ Frakt, David (2017-12-15). "The 2017 Bottom 10 Law Schools in the Country". The Faculty Lounge. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  14. ^ "Thomas Jefferson School of Law wins California accreditation". Archived from the original on 2018-10-22.
  15. ^ "Advanced Diploma and Certificate Law Programs"
  16. ^ "LLM and JSD Faculty"
  17. ^ "October 2020 California Bar Examination" (PDF). Retrieved 2021-05-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Cost of Attendance".
  19. ^ "Thomas Jefferson Profile".
  20. ^ "Which law school graduates have the most debt?". US News and World Report. Retrieved 2019-12-19.[dead link]
  21. ^ a b c (1/08/11) Is Law School a Losing Game? The New York Times
  22. ^ "Standard 509 Disclosure".
  23. ^ "ABA Disclosures". Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "Law Schools with the Highest Rate of Unemployed 2012 Graduates". National Law Journal. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  25. ^ Palazzolo, Joe (2012-06-25). "Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  26. ^ Zaretsky, Staci (24 March 2016). "Verdict Reached In The Alaburda v. Thomas Jefferson Law Landmark Case Over Fraudulent Employment Statistics". Above the Law. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  27. ^ "Law 'incubators' help new attorneys". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2013-03-30. Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  28. ^ "News". Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  30. ^ "CENTER FOR LAW AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY". Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  31. ^ "CENTER FOR GLOBAL LEGAL STUDIES". Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  32. ^ "CENTER FOR LAW AND SOCIAL JUSTICE". Retrieved 2019-12-19.
  33. ^ Broder, John M. (2002-11-13). "In a First, a Lesbian Is Elected District Attorney in San Diego". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  34. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  35. ^ "SHERREXCIA 'REXY' ROLLE '14 IS THE VP OF OPERATIONS AND GENERAL COUNSEL FOR WESTERN AIR". Thomas Jefferson School of Law. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2021-08-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Brown, Stacy M. (2019-01-03). "Flying High: Rexy Rolle Changing the Game in the Airline Industry". The Washington Informer. Retrieved 2021-09-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  37. ^ "Marjorie Cohn | Thomas Jefferson School of Law". Retrieved 2010-09-03.

External links[edit]

32°42′37″N 117°09′15″W / 32.71028°N 117.15417°W / 32.71028; -117.15417Coordinates: 32°42′37″N 117°09′15″W / 32.71028°N 117.15417°W / 32.71028; -117.15417