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Diversity Pioneers

Diversity Pioneers

Approximately 35 percent of USC Law students are minorities, making the USC Law one of the most diverse elite law schools in the nation. Publications such as the Princeton Review and Hispanic Business magazine consistently rank USC Law among their top ten choices for applicants seeking the best environment for minority students.

Ethnic, gender, cultural and racial diversity strengthens USC Law's curriculum and provides students with vital exposure to the people, histories, concerns, and varied viewpoints they will encounter in their careers and lives beyond law school.

USC Law's early yearbooks showcase the school's deep commitment to diversifying the legal profession. The faces of students reflect the communities USC alumni has gone on to lead. Of note:

  • Clarence Thompson ’04, the first African American to graduate from USC.
  • Phi Delta Delta, the nation's first female law-student sorority, was formed at USC Law in 1911.
  • You Chung Hong ’24, LLM ’25, the first Chinese American admitted to practice in California. He became the nation's foremost Chinese civil rights attorney.
  • Manuel Ruiz Jr. ’30, USC Law's first known Latino alumnus, considered the "California Dean of Mexican-American Lawyers." He was appointed by President Nixon to the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, and authored numerous works, including the seminal Mexican American Legal Heritage in the Southwest.
  • Edwin Jefferson ’31 rose to leadership positions in Los Angeles, and was appointed to the bench in 1940. Other early outstanding African-American alumni include David Williams ’37, who became a federal judge; Bert McDonald ’23, the first black lawyer in the Los Angeles City Attorney's office; and Crispus Attucks Wright ’38, who together with McDonald, Williams and others founded the John M. Langston Bar Association in 1943 (other bar associations had racial restrictions).
  • Dorothy W. Nelson LLM ’56 becomes USC Law dean in 1968. She was the first woman dean of a leading American law school, and is now senior judge with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. During her tenure as dean, students, faculty and administrators worked together to create programs, such as scholarship funds, financial aid programs, and student organizations, that still support a diverse student body today.
  • The Black Law Students Association is founded in 1969, the Chicano Law Students Association is founded in 1970, and the Asian Law Students Association is founded in 1970.
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