Colleges of Law celebrates 45th Anniversary

From judges to district attorneys to elected officials, the California Central Coast law community would not be the same without The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law.

SB Law College from Kate Carter on Vimeo.

When the foundation of what would grow into The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) was laid 45 years ago, there was a rise in public consciousness bent on creating a better world for all. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) had been signed into law. 1970 also saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a national celebration of the first Earth Day.

Ventura attorney Fred J. Olson and a group of colleagues were also looking to elevate society in this time of profound social change, founding an institution that would provide affordable legal education to people from all walks of life. The Ventura College of Law—a humble suite of classrooms leased annually from the former St. Catherine’s Academy for $1—opened in time for the 1969-1970 school year, with 36 students enrolled.

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Hon. David Long (Ret.), Heather Georgakis, and Dr. Michael Horowitz

Soon after, in September 1974, Santa Barbara attorney Thomas Williams had a similar vision—establishing a law school on the former University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Riviera campus. With Ventura College of Law successfully operating about 30 miles away, the two institutions merged in 1978, and The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law was born.

With Juris Doctor (J.D.) and Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) programs that combine quality, convenience, affordability, and real-world practicality, the nonprofit COL has a reputation in the community for providing students with a strong foundation in legal education. Today, COL boasts more than 1,800 graduates and a list of powerful alumni who have made a positive impact on local businesses and nonprofits as well as the community as a whole. 

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Chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Haynes

In 2010, COL joined TCS Education System, a nonprofit higher education community dedicated to creating educational experiences that change the way students learn, educating them to apply their skills to bring about lasting social change.

“Without the Colleges of Law, we would be without a large group of local leaders who have contributed so much to the quality of life on the California central coast,” says COL Dean Heather Georgakis, who has served the school as professor and dean for more than 12 years.


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