In late 2019, the University of La Verne decided that the College of Law would move forward with accreditation from the State Bar of California, recommitting to its mission of increasing regional access to a legal education and producing high-quality lawyers to serve the communities of California.
Since then, the college has had a landmark year, as it enjoyed record-high new student enrollment for the 2020–21 academic year and a first-year class that boasted the highest median GPA of any incoming class in the last decade. The pass rate for the California Bar Examination among first-time test takers in October of 2020 also rose to 73 percent, a significant increase over previous years.
Then came a generous and visionary gift from noted attorney and university Trustee Frank J. Lizarraga, Jr. ’80, to endow the college’s dean. Kevin S. Marshall, JD, MPA, PhD, the acting dean, immediately became the inaugural Frank Lizarraga Endowed Dean of the College of Law.
Endowed deans are a rarity in law schools, and the Lizarraga deanship is the first to be established at a school accredited exclusively by the State Bar of California. It is also the University of La Verne’s first-ever endowed dean.
A native of Ontario, California, Lizarraga is an accomplished civil litigator with more than 30 years of experience. He has his own legal practice in Ontario and serves as general counsel to some of the most influential organizations in the Inland Empire. He is a longtime supporter of the College of Law, which has its campus in Ontario, and is chair of the college’s Board of Advisors.
“I am so proud of how well the college’s graduates are serving their local communities, and with this gift, I want to inspire my fellow established lawyers to support the college’s mission,” Lizarraga said. “My greatest hope is that the Frank Lizarraga Endowed Dean of the College of Law will kick off a long legacy of members of our legal community giving back to the College of Law and to the Inland Southern California community.”
The University of La Verne’s College of Law is known for creating an innovative and collaborative learning environment designed to develop the knowledge and real-world legal skills relevant to working in private practice, public service, business, government, and on the bench. The college is consistently ranked highly for student diversity and minority representation.