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September 28, 2011

The California Model

While reading this intriguing article linked in the post below (which describes the creation of a new law school in Indio, California), I was reminded of how California provides a distinct model for legal education.

In other states, bar membership is predicated on holding a degree from a law school which is nationally accredited by the ABA.  California, however, has its own state accreditation for law schools, and graduates of state-but-not-nationally-accredited law schools are eligible to become members of the bar.  Quality control is emphasized through the bar exam, which traditionally has been difficult to pass relative to the tests given in other states.

One result of this different model has been a proliferation of law schools.  For example, the law school mentioned in the article, the California Desert Trial Academy College of Law, will offer night classes in a courthouse for fewer than 50 students (at least in the begining). 

Certainly, there are advantages to the California model.  With more law schools, legal education can be more local and emphasize particular skills or areas of practice.  The Indio school is geared towards both factors-- it will emphasize trial practice, and was created in part because the next closest law school was "70 miles away." 

On the down side, many of the graduates California law schools fail to pass the bar exam, and have spent their tuition money only to fail to reach their goal.

Certainly, most other states lack the critical mass of people it would take to make the California system work-- there simply aren't enough potential law students.  But is it worthwhile, even in California?

-- Mark Osler 



September 28, 2011 | Permalink


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Mark, as you may know, we have three tiers here in California: ABA accredited, state accredited, and non-accredited. The State Bar of California published bar passage stats for all schools.

Posted by: John Steele | Sep 28, 2011 5:49:58 PM

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