McGeorge School of Law began as a one-room night school in downtown Sacramento in 1924 when it was founded as the Sacramento College of Law. Verne Adrian McGeorge was the founding dean and professor of law. In 1929, the Board of Trustees renamed the school McGeorge College of Law in honor of its founder. 

Succeeding McGeorge, Russell Harris was dean from 1930-1933. Gilford Rowland was dean from 1933-1937. Lawrence Dorety was dean from 1937 until the school closed during WWII. The school reopened in 1946 under Dean John Swan. In 1957, Gordon D. Schaber became dean of McGeorge College of Law. He served as dean until 1991. 

In 1957, the law school moved to its permanent home in a vacant well-baby clinic at the corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue in the Oak Park neighborhood. 

The school won full accreditation from the State Bar of California in 1964. McGeorge affiliated with the University of the Pacific in 1966 and began offering day classes the following year. The merger with Pacific paved the way for ABA accreditation (1968) and an explosive growth in enrollment the following decade.  

McGeorge is part of Pacific’s Sacramento campus, a 13-acre, 26-building complex with 14 classrooms, a courtroom, a student center, student apartments, community legal services offices, and the lecture hall. The McGeorge Legal Studies Center opened in 2011 and houses the Gordon D. Schaber Law Library.  

A leader in the study of international law, McGeorge established a presence in Europe in 1974. Anthony M. Kennedy, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, taught each summer at the school’s International Legal Studies Program in Salzburg, Austria. Justice Kennedy is McGeorge’s longest serving faculty member, having taught Constitutional Law and Comparative Free Speech from 1965 to 2019. 

Dean Gerald Caplan succeeded Schaber in 1991 and served as dean until 2002. Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker became the eighth dean of McGeorge, serving from 2002-2012. Francis J. Mootz III, formerly of UNLV's William Boyd School of Law, became the ninth dean of McGeorge. Mootz served as dean from 2012-2017. 

Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, who previously served as the dean of the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, joined McGeorge as its 10th dean in 2017. Under Dean Schwartz’s leadership, McGeorge School of Law received one of the largest gifts in the history of U.S. legal education in 2021. Robert T. Eglet, ’88, and his law partner and wife, Tracy A. Eglet, committed to giving $25 million to the law school in support of the school’s advocacy center and scholarships dedicated to first-generation students and Students of Color.  

McGeorge School of Law celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2024.