UCLA School of Law welcomed its newest class of students at its annual convocation ceremony on August 17. The incoming roster includes a diverse and deeply talented array of 512 students, including 311 members of the J.D. Class of 2021; 200 students who are pursuing a master of laws degree; and one candidate for a legal doctorate.
Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin and Student Bar Association President Luis Vasquez ’19 each offered welcoming remarks. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Halim Dhanidina ’97 spoke on behalf of UCLA Law alumni and administered the oath of professionalism.
View the Fall 2018 Incoming Class Profile.
The J.D. students were selected from 6,243 applicants, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. They come from 123 undergraduate schools in 29 states and eight foreign countries. California residents make up 58 percent of the incoming class. Forty-one percent are students of color, and 52 percent are women. The average age is 24.
For incoming J.D. students, the median LSAT score is 168, one point higher than last year. The 25th percentile LSAT score increased two points to 165, and the 75th percentile is up one point to 169. The median undergraduate GPA is 3.72, the 25th percentile is 3.52 and the 75th percentile is 3.85.
L to R: Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin, Judge Halim Dhanidina '97, SBA President Luis Vasquez '19
Members of the entering class begin law school having already distinguished themselves in education, the professional space and elsewhere. Among them are entrepreneurs who have started businesses in virtual reality and other fields, and former employees of the White House, the U.S. Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Peace Corps. They previously worked at Apple, Amazon, Uber, Chevron, Morgan Stanley, Berkshire Hathaway, CAA, Warner Bros., MTV, the Los Angeles Lakers and a number of leading law firms. Many are accomplished athletes, two are Eagle Scouts, one is a champion chess player and several are acclaimed artists and writers.
The new students also have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service, working on issues such as immigration, homelessness, civil liberties, sexual violence and the environment. They have played roles in organizations ranging from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the Disability Rights Legal Center to the National Lawyers Guild, as well as policy organizations including the Center for American Progress and the Heritage Foundation. The class includes veterans of the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard.
Lawyers in the one-year LL.M. program come from 35 countries, including China, France, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, Hungary and Vietnam.
At UCLA Law, 45 percent of the LL.M. students plan to specialize in business law; 32 percent will focus on media, entertainment and technology law; and others will study international and comparative law, public interest, critical race studies, law and sexuality, or individualized programs of their own design. Two lawyers from South Africa arrive as Health and Human Rights fellows who will study public interest law, and one lawyer from Brazil will specialize in critical race studies.
The LL.M. students have worked as attorneys at Baker McKenzie, White & Case, Disney, Samsung, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Others gained professional experience in the Chinese space program, the International Olympic Committee and the Swedish Migration Authority. They have worked in key judicial posts in Japan, South Korea, Austria and India. They include five Fulbright scholars. And one is an active-duty JAG in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In addition, the school welcomed 19 international exchange students for the fall semester from institutions in Austria, China, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Seven UCLA Law J.D. students are visiting schools in China, Germany, Israel and Switzerland.
The convocation ceremony in UCLA’s Royce Hall was the culmination of the incoming students’ robust orientation program, which included courses on legal research and best practices in legal study, networking opportunities and social events.
“We are all kind of cut from the same cloth, we were all drawn to this profession, and to this school, by a lot of the same things,” Dhanidina said, reminding students to be engaged in the law school and the legal profession, to be flexible in their career paths and to give back to the community around them.
“The coup de grace is to find meaning in your work, to find something that you really want to get up every day and to go and do, whether you describe it as passion or as something that gives you fulfillment.”