»The History of The School of Law

Law GraduatesAn Innovative Foundation

With its fresh approach to legal education and its ties to California's origin as a state, Chapman University Fowler School of Law's illustrious and innovative past paves the way for a limitless future.

Our Philosophy

Unlike some methods of legal pedagogy that fostered an educational environment grounded in intimidation, Chapman professors sought to challenge old paradigms and put students at the center of the educational experience, while simultaneously retaining rigorous classroom discussion. Chapman asked the question, "Can a legal education be personal, dynamic and effective?"
 The answer is: unequivocally "yes."

The law school opened in 1995 as Orange County's first law school on a university campus. In 2013, a generous $55 million gift by Dale E. Fowler renamed the school to the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law.

The History of the Site

The Law School site, located near the Orange Metrolink station, was once part of the fabled Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, a huge tract granted by the Spanish crown in 1810. A prominent Los Angeles lawyer, Alfred Beck Chapman, and his law partner, Andrew Glassell, acquired a large portion of the ranch in 1868, and laid out the town, which today is called Orange.

Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of LawIn 1872, Mr. Chapman donated to the town the land on which the new law building is located. The law building is located just two blocks from "the circle" in the heart of Historic Old Towne Orange. The circle has been featured in a number of movie productions because of its quaint array of restaurants and shops, many of which trade in antiques. On June 1, 1999, the School of Law occupied the new $30 million law school complex on Chapman University's main campus in Orange.

In 1999, the Law School building was officially named Donald P. Kennedy Hall, honoring Mr. Donald Kennedy a longtime Chapman trustee and benefactor. Nearly 200 years after that original grant, the state-of-the-art Donald P. Kennedy Hall.  The Hall is named for benefactor, Chapman Trustee, and chairman of the board of First American Financial Corporation.  The principal building, rising four stories and providing 133,000 square feet of floor space, offers an efficient and pleasant learning environment for students.

  • Classrooms and seminar rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology for enhanced teaching and learning, and are capable of accommodating future changes in electronic, visual and on-site learning.
  • The law library occupies one wing of the building and individualizes the research process by offering student carrels equipped with outlets for laptop computers and related electronic devices.
  • Fowler School of Law Mock Courtroom Two courtrooms, one designed for trials and the other for appellate hearings, provide fully equipped facilities for trial advocacy exercises, mock trial and moot court competitions, and formal hearings by visiting courts.
  • Student lounges and facilities for student organizations ensure that the law school experience at Chapman will be both productive and pleasant.
  • In addition, a 720-car parking structure at the rear of the law building provides parking for students, faculty and visitors.
  • The distinctive historical facade of an earlier building, modeled after the eleventh century Romanesque Basilica del Santi Vitale e Agricola in Bologna, Italy, is preserved within the walls of the new structure. Thus, the building links the important heritage of the past with the exciting educational environment of the future.

 For more information please feel free to contact us.

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