Officials at Western State University College of Law, hoping to capitalize on rapid growth in South County by opening the first large law school there, have picked a site in Irvine Spectrum for their third campus, the school announced Wednesday.
Starting in the fall, a 14,000-square-foot facility in the Western Financial Savings Bank will be home to about 250 law students, as many as 11 faculty members and a 50,000-volume law library, purchased from Northrop University Law Center.
The site is at 23 Pasteur, near the San Diego Freeway and Laguna Canyon Road. School officials had been looking for a new home somewhere in the Irvine area since last year.
Already the largest law school in California, Western State now has campuses in Fullerton and San Diego for 1,850 students. School officials hope to attract another 500 students to the Irvine campus within a few years, and they are already making plans to build a larger facility. They will be leasing the bank site temporarily.
UC Irvine has also been considering starting a law school, but administrators there say they do not consider Western State to be direct competition.
Western State, while recognized by state and regional accrediting organizations, had failed for years to gain accreditation from the American Bar Assn. and gave up the quest altogether last year. Western State is seen as a "second chance" law school for older, non-traditional students, many of whom already hold a job but are seeking a career switch. About 70% of its students attend school part time.