Program Overview

Journalist Law School Overview

The fellowship condenses core law-school subjects and break-out topics into a long weekend filled with courses taught by Loyola Law faculty, practicing attorneys, legislators and hudges. Journalists with at least three years of experience who cover the law in some fashion are encouraged to apply.Journalist fellows, who are competitively selected, receive a certificate of completion at the end of the four-day program. About 400 reporters, editors and producers have completed the fellowship from a wide range of local, national and international news organizations.

There is no cost to journalists to attend the fellowship. Instruction, lodging and most meals are included. And the Journalist Law School will cover half of travel expenses up to $300. Fellows will be housed at the nearby Los Angeles Hotel.

The JLS will cover lodging from Wednesday through Saturday. Fellows will be responsible for any additional lodging. Fellows will have one free evening to explore Los Angeles on their own. Certificates will be issued during a graduation ceremony and reception on the Saturday evening.

Loyola’s Civil Justice Program started the JLS in 2006 as a way to help journalists navigate the complexities of the legal system and enhance their coverage of it. “Journalists provide the keys to understanding the most complex institutions in our society, including the courts,” said Professor Nockleby, director of the JLS and Loyola’s Civil Justice Program. “If journalists have a deeper understanding of law and the legal system, they can help the public better understand – and critique – that system.”

The core faculty members -- Professors Nockleby, Laurie Levenson and Karl Manheim – will lecture on civil, criminal and constitutional law and other primary topics. They -- along with Professors Jay Dougherty, Allan Ides and Daniel Martin, as well as Dean Victor Gold -- recently published “The Journalist’s Guide to American Law” (Routledge, 2012), a comprehensive reference for reporters who cover the legal system. Fellows will receive a copy of the book. 

Additional faculty will lead breakout sessions, which accepted fellows will suggest and select in advance. Past breakout sessions include: After the Crisis: Mortgages, Credit Cards & Payday Lending; Disability Rights Law; Dynamics of the Supreme Court; Election Law; Family Law & Children; Habeas Corpus & the Death Penalty; Intellectual Property; Juvenile Law, the Law of War; Laws of Demonstrations; Legal & Judicial Ethics; Racial Discrimination and News Coverage; the Rules Governing Admission of Evidence at Trial; and Terrorists & Noncombatants: Guantanamo & Due Process.

JLS lectures are supplemented by speaker events featuring a variety of lawyers, judges and veteran journalists. Previous speakers include Shirley Abrahamson, chief justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court; Harland Braun, who represented Robert Blake in his murder trial, Law Offices of Harland Braun; Linda Deutsch, AP legal reporter; Mark Geragos ’82, who represented Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, Law Offices of Geragos & Geragos; George W. Greer, judge in the Terri Schiavo case, Sixth Judicial Circuit; Nora Manella, California Court of Appeal; and Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor.

What previous fellows have said about the JLS fellowship:

  • “This should probably be required of all journalists earlier in their careers.”
  • “It’s a program that delivers on its promise: teach journalists a better, more comprehensive understanding of the law.”
  • “I came to the program expecting a crash course in the law and, fortunately, I got that. I really felt I was being taught by the very best legal academic minds and it both humbled me and inspired me to re-dedicate myself to better journalistic endeavors down the road. The payoff: accurate reporting and thus a more well-informed society.”
  • “The professors at Loyola Law School know their stuff. I can’t think of any session where I questioned the level of knowledge held by the speaker – and, as a reporter, I am paid to be skeptical of people’s words.”

The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is a founding sponsor of the program.