Our Story

History of Business Law @ Hastings

Pioneer Hall, 1878-1900 Location: Montgomery & Gold Streets

University of California, Hastings College of the Law opened its doors in 1878 as the first law school west of Des Moines, Iowa.  Since its founding, UC Hastings’ faculty and alumni have been leaders in the business law community of both California and the greater United States.  In fact, it was alumni from Hastings’ first 25 years that went on to build San Francisco’s legal community.  Notable names from that era include Alexander Morrison (1881), founding partner of Morrison & Foerster, which is now a 1,000 lawyer firm with 16 offices throughout the world, William Orrick (1903), founding partner of what is now the global powerhouse Orrick, Herrington & Stutcliffe LLP, as well as Sidney Ehrman (1898) and Emmanuel Heller (1889), who created a partnership that became the San Francisco legal giant Heller Ehrman LLP.  Hastings alumni also made their mark on the business world, such as alumnus Walter S. Johnson (1914) who founded American Forest Products Corporation and also served as President of the Friden Calculating Machine Company.

State Building, 1923-1932 Location: 350 McAllister Street

Hastings continued its tradition of leadership through two world wars and the middle of the 20th century.  One important shift at Hastings included the hiring innovations of the “Sixty-Five Club.”  Under the leadership of Dean David E. Snodgrass, Hastings recruited a variety of eminent scholars from the nation’s top law schools to finish their careers writing and teaching in San Francisco.  This greatly enhanced Hastings’ academic reputation as distinguished scholars such as Miguel de Capriles, former Dean, Vice President, and General Counsel of New York University Law School, Roscoe Steffen, former Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Millard Breckenridge, former Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, and Merton Ferson, former Dean of the University of Cincinnati Law school, came to Hastings.  During this same period Hastings graduated a new generation of leadership such as Ben Lerer (1933), founder of Golden Gate National Bank, Raymond Hanson (1936), the founder of Hanson Bridgett LLP, Charles Townsend (1948), a founder of Towensend & Townsend (now Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP), and George Roberts (1969), a co-Founder of Private Equity trailblazer Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

UC Hastings College of the Law, 1953 – Present Location: 198 McAllister Street

Today, a new generation of faculty leads the school’s business law curriculum.  This new generation is composed of field leaders such as professors Alice Armitage, Alina Ball, Abraham Cable, John Crawford, Jared Ellias, Heather Fields, and Jodi Short, among others.  Our faculty upholds Hastings’ ongoing tradition of leadership in business law education through a robust offering of business law courses.  A strategically designed business law concentration provides students the opportunity to gain a well-rounded yet business focused legal expertise. Business law clinics, such as the Startup Legal Garage and Social Enterprise and Economic Empowerment Clinics, provide students with real world practical experience, preparing them to hit the ground running as junior associates.

“Peace Hand” by James Reka, 2013

The UC Hastings Center for Business Law was established in 2018 to provide a platform for Hastings students, faculty and alumni to engage in the study, teaching, and practice of business and business law.  Hastings boasts more than 20,000 alumni, some of whom are already leaders in business and others who are only beginning to make their mark.  The CBL will provide a vast array of opportunities for our alumni, students and faculty to collaborate through regular programming, which includes educational conferences, networking receptions, and mentorship programs.  The Center for Business Law was established to ensure that UC Hastings maintains its historic role as a leader and innovator in the business law community of the Bay Area and beyond.