50 years of impact - Time shot of Old Armstrong hall in Tempe and the Beus Center for Law and Society in Downtown Phoenix

50 years of impact

History of ASU Law: 50 Years of Impact

G. Homer Durham was the president of Arizona State University from 1960 to 1969. Establishing a law school was one of his goals and in 1965 he hired Willard H. Pedrick as the first dean. In 1967, the ASU College of Law accepted 117 students into the inaugural class located on ASU’s Tempe campus. And three years later in 1970, 83 students graduated receiving their juris doctorate degree from the ASU College of Law.

The law school has accomplished many significant milestones in its 50+ years. In 2006, soon after her retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, ASU College of Law was renamed the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Students continue to personify Justice O’Connor’s legacy and lifetime work to advance civics education and civic engagement and discourse, by donating more than 120,000 hours of public service each year.

Led by former Dean Douglas Sylvester, who was appointed the eighth dean in 2012, ASU Law rose in national and world rankings, continued to attract highly credentialed students and offers more personalized programs than any other law school in the country. 

Headshots of Deans of the law school

In 2016, ASU Law moved to the Beus Center for Law and Society in the ASU downtown Phoenix campus further enhancing the law school’s ability to serve the community and provide students access to the best legal opportunities. Students can also study beyond Phoenix at locations in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, as well as participate in global study abroad and externship or internship opportunities.


Walk Through ASU Law's History



The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University: 1965 to 2020

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University: 1965 to 2020

Author Gary Stuart tells the important story of how a small but committed group of inaugural faculty created a law school out of the ether. A law school that over the next 50 years would become a national leader on legal and educational reform. Stuart describes the book, "A story about launching a legacy-fifty years in the making, one lawyer at a time." His book is a clear and cohesive account of the importance and need for the rule of law, advanced by well-trained lawyers, thoughtful judges, and legal scholars. This book is chock full of facts and heretofore-undisclosed history. More than 8,000 students have graduated in the last fifty years. Today, in its new home, the Beus Center for Law & Society, in downtown Phoenix, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law fosters collaboration among ASU, the bench and bar, and all facets of industry, helping make Phoenix the fastest-growing and most innovative-friendly city in the country. As the book makes clear, there truly is not another law school in the world like the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

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Class of 1970-1974 Golden Reunion

ASU’s Golden Reunion is a time-honored university tradition that recognizes Sun Devil graduates from 50 years ago. After being postponed in 2021, we’re proud to be able to honor the College of Law's classes of 1970-1974 at our inaugural golden reunion this spring.

Save the dates! This reunion will be part of a special law alumni weekend on April 12-13, 2024.

Law Forum Magazines

In 1977, the decade old Arizona State University College of Law had graduated about 1,000 students and thought it would be an appropriate time to start producing an alumni magazine. While all friends and family of the law school were welcome to read the magazine, the Arizona State Law Forum was principally designed for its alumni to share the latest ASU Law news, scholarly articles, law-review-type analyses, events and research. Over the course of 18 years, the Law Forum magazine shared news about the law building expansion and library addition, anniversary milestones, and the creation of new programs like the Indian Legal program in 1988, just to name a few. Click on the links below to read the digital version of each Law Forum magazine.

Historical Publications