How to Get a J.D. Degree in California

So you’re ready to go to law school? Use these tips when considering what you’ll need to get a J.D. degree in California and begin your career.

To practice law in any state you must first meet the professional requirements for becoming a lawyer. But every state sets different standards—from educational requirements and passing the bar exam to completing a moral character and background check.

Read more below to discover what you need to know about how to get a J.D. degree in California.


Know what accreditation your law school needs

The state of California is one of the few states that creates multiple pathways into the profession.

While most states require prospective attorneys to graduate from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, California allows students to attend local law schools that the State Bar of California accredits.

California accredited law schools were specifically created to make an affordable, quality legal education available to individuals from nontraditional backgrounds.

The Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law (COL) is an example of a California accredited law school that shares this mission of expanding access to legal education with an emphasis on opportunity and academic excellence.


Choose a juris doctor program that fits your lifestyle

When considering how to get a J.D. degree in California, it is important to think about how enrolling in a program will affect your current responsibilities and commitments.

There are two juris doctor programs you can pursue, each with their own specific benefits. While multiple law schools may offer traditional juris doctor programs, note that Colleges of Law is the first law school in California to launch an innovative hybrid juris doctor program. You can read more about our specific program offerings below and decide which one aligns with your needs:


  1. Traditional, Part-Time Juris Doctor Program – Our California accredited J.D. degree program thoroughly prepares graduates to sit for the California Bar Exam through a collaborative learning environment that emphasizes discussion and debate. Students study under working lawyers, judges, and elected officials, many of whom live and practice in local communities. Culminating with a pro bono internship under a practicing attorney or judge, the program equips students with the practical and theoretical skills that translate into a successful professional career.
  2. Hybrid Juris Doctor Program – Our groundbreaking Hybrid J.D. program begins a new tradition in legal education by making a law degree more accessible and affordable for students who desire to make a difference but have commitments that prevent them from attending classes on campus. This program redefines traditional thought surrounding law school by combining online learning with intensive residencies.


Make sure your program prepares you for the California Bar Exam

Your juris doctor program should not only help you prepare for the practice of law but also prepare for the bar California BAR Examination.

For example, our curriculum incorporates bar preparation material directly into the curriculum so students are preparing for the bar exam as they learn the material for class. The benefits of this are exemplified in the amount of success our students have on the California Bar Exam— in 2017, 67 percent of the graduating class passed the bar, far exceeding the state’s overall bar pass rate.

Additionally, all of our faculty are local attorneys and judges who step out of their offices or off the bench to teach at the school. This allows students to enter the profession and the local legal community the moment they enter the classroom.

Make sure that your program is preparing you with a practical end goals in mind. And one of those goals needs to be preparation for the Bar.


Don’t get buried in debt!

It’s no secret that law school can be expensive. But that doesn’t mean you need to trade quality legal education for a lifetime of debt.

Most ABA law schools in California cost an average of $50,000 to $60,000 for one year. However, Colleges of Law costs less than $70,000 for your entire J.D., yet another benefit of being local accreditation.

Students are able to graduate from the program and start their new careers without the staggering debt that so many graduates from traditional law schools face.

If you plan to practice law in California, why pay for more than you need? Instead, match your investment to the education you actually need.

Choosing where to attend law school is an important decision. If you are looking to get your J.D. degree and start your career in California, you should consider the benefits of a California accredited law school. Keep these tips in mind for how to get your J.D. in California and you should be well on your way to a successful career. Good luck!


Interested in pursuing your J.D.?  Explore our Traditional J.D. Program or our Hybrid J.D. Program. You can also request more information by filling out the form below.