About California Southern Law School

Founded in 1971, California Southern Law School is the oldest law school in the County of Riverside. It confers the professional degree of Juris Doctor.

The law school is an educational institution offering a systematic program designed to prepare and train students in the practice, art and theory of law, and to impart an understanding of the history, ideals and principles of our legal system.

History

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.


ELWOOD M. RICH (1920-2015), Founder and Dean Emeritus
B.A. Duke University
J.D. University of Illinois
Deputy District Attorney, Riverside County, 1947-1952
Judge, Riverside Municipal Court, 1953-1971
Judge, Riverside Superior Court, 1971-1980
Private Judge, 1980 - 2013

JIM D. BISHOP, Interim Dean from 2014-2020
B.A. California State University, San Bernardino
J.D. University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
Member of the California State Bar since 1975
Member of the faculty of California Southern Law School 1976-2017

In the Spring, 2014 Judge Elwood M. Rich, Founder and Dean of California Southern Law School since 1971 retired and accepted the title of Dean Emeritus.  Judge Rich selected Jim D. Bishop as Interim Dean, and Mr. Bishop graciously accepted the position.

Mr. Bishop was a member of the faculty at California Southern Law School from 1976 to 2017, and is presently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Business Law at California Baptist University in Riverside.  His previous teaching experiences were at Chapman University and Riverside Community College.

GREGORY A. RICH, Assistant to the Dean 
California Southern Law School, 1980 - 2020

GREGORY A. RICH, Registrar
California Southern Law School, 2017 - 2020

Turning Off The Lights At California Southern Law School

In light of the retirement plans of members of the administration, the stockholders of Citrus Belt Law School Inc. DBA California Southern Law School have decided that the Fall 2016 semester will be the last one in which we enroll first year students.  After August 29, 2016 no more new first year students will be admitted.  The school will continue operations until the last class graduates in 2020, but not beyond that date.

Students enrolling in the 2016-17 school year will be able to complete their legal education at California Southern Law School by May 2020, but they must pass the June 2017 First-Year Law Students' Examination ("Baby Bar") to qualify to continue as 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students in the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.  

Those 2016-17 first year students who do not pass the June 2017 Baby Bar may still complete their education.  Our ‘three chance’ policy provides that students who come within 30 points of passing the Baby Bar may be invited to enroll in second year classes.  Any of these students who then pass the Baby Bar in their second or third opportunities—October 2017 or June 2018 --- may keep their second year course credits and advance to third year.

Because of the unusual nature of these final years circumstances, we will lower the qualifying score on the Baby Bar to within 50 points of passing to be considered for second year enrollment.  But students need to realize the further they are from the passing score the less likely they are to pass in successive attempts.

Those students in the 2016-17 first year law classes who do not pass the June 2017 Baby Bar and are not eligible to be invited into second year classes will find their legal education opportunities here at an end.

Again, we need to emphasize, the school will not cease operations until the Class of 2020 has graduated.

2016-17 - 1st thru 4th year students will be enrolled, but it will be the last year we will have 1st year students

2017-18 - 2nd thru 4th year students will be enrolled

2018-19 - 3rd and 4th year students will be enrolled

2019-2020 - 4th year students will be enrolled