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#163 California law schools

mp3 #163 Law Schools in California (mp3 file)


In California, there are more law schools and more lawyers than in any other state.

There are four types of law programs in California. First, there are the law schools which are approved by the American Bar Association. Second, there are the law schools which are accredited by the California State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners. Third, there are the law schools which are not accredited, either by the American Bar Association, or by the California State Bar Examiners. Fourth, there are correspondence law courses that are registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners, but which are not accredited by the American Bar Association or by the Committee of Bar Examiners.

The law schools which are approved by the American Bar Association generally have high academic requirements for admission, require a bachelor's degree with a good grade point average, and a good score on the nationwide law school admission test, known as the LSAT. Graduates of ABA-approved law schools are eligible to take the state bar exam in every state in the nation. Law schools approved by the ABA also meet high standards for faculty, curriculum, law library holdings, facilities, and financial support.

The law schools which are accredited by the California State Bar Examiners, but not by the ABA, are those which meet the standards and requirements of the California Committee of Bar Examiners for law schools in California. These requirements are generally not as exacting as the standards set by the ABA, particularly with respect to physical plant, library and full-time faculty.

Graduates of law schools accredited by the California state bar examiners are eligible to take the state bar examination in California, as are graduates of unaccredited and correspondence law schools, but most other states require graduation from a law school approved by the ABA in order to be eligible to take their state's bar exam.

The third and fourth groups are schools and correspondence courses not approved by the ABA, nor by the California state bar examiners. These programs do not meet the minimum standards of either organization, and they usually do not require that students have a bachelor's degree or any specific pre-legal education. At the end of their first year of study, students of unaccredited programs must take what is called the first year law students' examination, also known as the "baby bar," which covers the subjects of contracts, torts, and criminal law. The examination is given by the State Committee of Bar Examiners. Students of all unaccredited schools must pass this examination, before the state bar examiners will allow credit for up to two years of law study.

Between 50 and 60% of law school graduates who take the California bar examinations usually pass the exam, and are admitted to the state bar as attorneys. The highest pass rate as a group is by graduates of ABA-approved law schools, in both California and other states. The next highest pass rate as a group is by graduates of state bar accredited schools, while the lowest pass rate as a group is by graduates of unaccredited law schools and correspondence programs.

Law school studies in California require three years of full time study in and graduation from law school, or four years of part time study. Several ABA-approved law schools have evening classes for part-time students, who usually attend three to four nights a week. State bar accredited law schools have evening, daytime, or weekend classes for part-time students, and many have full-time programs as well. Most unaccredited law schools have evening classes only.

The California state bar examination is given twice a year, usually in February and July, and law school graduates may take the exam as many times as necessary. The exam lasts for three days, and those taking the exam respond to questions and issues in a variety of legal subjects. All attorneys who are licensed to practice law in California must first pass the state bar examination.

For information about ABA approved law schools, contact the ABA’s section of legal education and admissions to the bar at 310-988-6738. More information can be found on the ABA website at www.abanet.org/legaled.html

For further and up-to-date information about law schools in California, and to obtain a list of law schools with full addresses and phone numbers, you may contact the committee of bar examiners, state bar of California, which has offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The phone number for the state bar office in San Francisco is area code (415) 538-2000, and in Los Angeles it is area code (213) 765-1000. More information can also be found at www.calbar.ca.gov.

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