California Southern Law School was founded in 1971 by Dean Elwood M. Rich, then a Riverside County Superior Court judge. Judge Rich taught Torts at a Riverside law school that closed earlier that year. So he began a research project to find a way to help those first year students complete the legal education that they had invested themselves in and decided to open a law school. And so in July of that year Citrus Belt Law School was founded, and opened it’s doors to law students that Fall; located in the basement of the Security Pacific Bank building.
There have been many changes in the past 45+ years. Riverside is a no longer a city of 140,000, with it's population now exceeding 300,000. The Inland Empire population has nearly quadrupled to over 4.1 million with new cities incorporating in Murrieta, Temecula and Moreno Valley in Riverside County, and Chino Hills, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga and Yucaipa in neighboring San Bernardino County. Citrus Belt Law School changed it’s name in 1991 to California Southern Law School, since the agricultural “Citrus Belt” had become homes, and now occupies two single-story buildings totaling 10,000 square feet.
Riverside is now home to the California Court of Appeal, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and the U.S. District Court. Murrieta is now home to the Southwest Justice Center.
Yet despite these changes, the philosophy of California Southern Law School has not changed. The law school was founded upon giving working adults, relying on the support group of family, the opportunity to obtain a legal education and enter the legal community.