HOW DO I BECOME A LAWYER?

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California offers many pathways

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Law Schools

Unlike most other states with only a few law schools, California has over 50 law schools! They present a diverse array of opportunities at different cost points to receive a legal education. In addition to ABA-accredited law schools, we have California-accredited law schools and registered, unaccredited law schools. Some schools offer flexibility and opportunities for those who need it, including programs that are fully online, part-time or at night, with leeway to spread out your study over four or more years.

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Law Office Study Program

California is one of only a few states where you can become a lawyer without going to law school, by studying under a judge or attorney. It’s four years of hard work or maybe more, but it could be the right path for you!

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Get started now!

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IF YOU'RE IN HIGH SCHOOL:

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Study

  • Stay in school
  • Get good grades, and ask for help if needed
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Explore

  • Extracurricular activities: Does your high school have a Law Academy? Debate team?
  • College fairs
  • Community colleges
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Plan

Ask counselors about:

  • Assistance programs
  • Scholarships
  • Grants for college
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IF YOU'RE IN COMMUNITY COLLEGE OR UNDERGRAD:

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Study

  • Take classes that require writing, logic, and critical thinking, such as communications, public speaking, and political science
  • Get good grades, and ask for help if needed
  • Study for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and consider investing in prep courses if available (the next page lists one for free!)
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Explore

  • Learn about the legal profession–visit law schools, intern at a law office or legal aid organization, attend court proceedings
  • Join your school’s pre-law organization
  • Ask a lawyer to take 15 minutes to chat with you about their career
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Plan

  • Ask counselors about assistance programs, scholarships, and grants for law school
  • Check law school websites for information about how to get ready, and any grants or scholarships they offer
  • Look into your local bar association or affinity bar associations for grants or scholarships. You'll find a list on the next page
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IF YOU'RE NOT IN SCHOOL, AND YOU DIDN’T GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE:

In California, qualified applicants can take the bar exam without going to law school. Most law schools require a college degree, but some may only ask for equivalent course work, and some law schools focus on your legal interest and life experiences and not on your grades or LSAT scores.

If being a lawyer is your dream, you can achieve it!

"Fight for the things you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you."
­­ -- Ruth Bader Ginsberg
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