State Bar of California Accreditation

On November 18, 2019, the Board of Trustees of the University of La Verne directed that the College of Law shall discontinue its American Bar Association (ABA)–accredited program of legal education and instructed administration to transition to a high-quality program of legal education approved and accredited by the State Bar of California. The College of Law began enrolling new students for a JD degree as a State Bar of California–approved law school beginning in the fall of 2020.

For Current Students

The University of La Verne’s current ABA-accredited program of legal education remains ABA accredited and in operation. It will continue to provide the opportunity for all currently enrolled students at the College of Law to complete their legal education in a timely manner. The College of Law is committed to ensuring that its current students will graduate with an ABA-degree pursuant to an ABA-approved teach-out plan.

For Incoming Students Beginning in Fall 2020 and After

All future newly admitted and enrolled 1L students will be admitted and enrolled in a program of legal education approved and accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners for the State Bar of California. They will not be admitted or enrolled in a program of legal education approved and accredited by the ABA. Accordingly, they will have the opportunity to earn a JD and graduate from a school that is accredited exclusively by the State Bar of California.

All future newly admitted and enrolled 1L students are informed that study at or graduation from the law school’s program of legal education approved by the State Bar of California may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or be admitted to practice law in jurisdictions other than California. A student who intends to seek admission to practice outside of California should contact the admitting authority in that jurisdiction for information regarding its education and admission requirements.

Understanding State Bar of California Accreditation

California has several “legal deserts,” or areas with a smaller number of practicing lawyers. For individuals seeking legal representation, this situation poses multiple challenges and restricts access to justice.

For this reason, the State Bar of California has opened up multiple pathways to pursuing a legal education. The State Bar of California is the state’s largest bar association, oversees the licensing and regulation of lawyers, and administers the bar exam. In emphasizing diversity in the legal profession and equal access to resources regardless of income and geographic location, the State Bar of California’s Committee of Examiners grants accreditation to certain law schools that have not received or do not meet the requirements for ABA accreditation.

To be accredited by the State Bar of California, a law school must maintain a cumulative five-year bar pass rate of 40 percent or higher. Graduates of a State Bar of California–accredited school can sit for the California bar exam upon graduation but cannot take it in another state.

In providing its own accreditation, the State Bar of California believes that:

  • a wider swath of individuals will have access to a legal education and representation;
  • individuals in more remote geographic locations can receive an education; and
  • through lower tuition and a greater range of options, individuals who ordinarily would not have the resources to pursue a legal career can work toward their goals.

Reflecting this mission, State Bar of California–accredited law schools:

  • Do not require a completed bachelor’s degree for admission. Instead, interested candidates must have earned at least 60 semester or 90 quarter hours, or the equivalent of an associate degree, to qualify.
  • Do not require standardized test scores—although they are strongly recommended for admission. Although LSAT or GRE results may give interested candidates an edge, taking these tests is not an admissions requirement.
  • Tend to offer more flexibility. State Bar of California–accredited law schools are more likely to offer part-time and evening JD programs, allowing working adults to obtain a legal education around a full-time job and other obligations.

Becoming a Lawyer in California

According to 2019 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California employs the largest number of lawyers in the United States.

To practice starting from a State Bar of California–accredited law school, an individual must receive a JD degree involving at least 1,200 hours of study or 80 semester hours. Students must have committed a minimum of 32 months to the program and no more than 84 months.

The program’s curriculum must provide a minimum of six semester units of practical skills, cover subjects tested on the California bar exam, and include at least one course in professional responsibility.

Along with obtaining a JD degree meeting all requirements, students from a State Bar of California–accredited law school interested in becoming a practicing lawyer must:

  • receive a passing score on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination;
  • undergo a background check for moral character;
  • register with the State Bar of California Office of Admission before registering online to take the bar exam; and
  • pay the exam fee ($650).

After you register to take the state bar exam, forms will be submitted to the La Verne College of Law to verify that your legal education, via official transcripts, meets all state requirements.

The bar exam is held in February and July and lasts two days. After you receive a passing score, you have five years to apply for admission to the state bar. You will be required to attend a ceremony and oath of office to officially practice law in the state of California.

As a practicing lawyer in California, you have the option to join a professional organization or receive certification, through a bar-affiliated program, in one of 11 professional areas.

To maintain your California state license, you are required to complete at least 25 hours of approved minimum continuing legal education (MCLE) every three years. Your progress must be reported online by a set, assigned deadline.

For individuals who graduate from a State Bar of California–accredited law school interested in eventually practicing law outside of California, 19 states allow you to take their bar exam after you have practiced law in California for a minimum of five years.

Preparing for the Bar Exam

The College of Law’s Center for Academic and Bar Readiness (CABR) helps students develop strong study skills to succeed in the JD program and prepare to take the bar. Emphasis on academic readiness begins with new student orientation and is integrated into the curriculum starting from 1L. Along with improved study skills, candidates work on time management, outlining, and exam techniques.

CABR’s own Bar Readiness program begins during the JD program’s final year and includes post-graduation resources that integrate with and complement BARBRI commercial exam preparation courses.

Learn More About the College of Law’s State Bar of California Accreditation

Established in 1970, La Verne Law has produced generations of law professionals educated on standards of ethics and service to the community. The law school is part of the University of La Verne, which is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Among the other memberships maintained by the University are those in the American Council on Education, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and Independent Colleges of Southern California.

To learn more about the College of Law’s accreditation status or the JD program, contact the College of Law’s Office of Admissions by email or by phone at (877) 858-4529, or request more information today.