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Law school acceptance rates California

Law School Acceptance Rates in California in 2024

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Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by II Editor

With about 21 accredited law schools across the state, California offers aspiring attorneys a wide range of options to obtain their Juris Doctor (JD) degree. However, with so many choices, deciding on the right law school can feel overwhelming. In this guide, we provide a comprehensive look at the law school acceptance rates in California and other key factors you need to consider when making your decision.

Furthermore, we will break down data on acceptance rates, bar passage rates, employment outcomes, costs and more to help you make an informed decision. By understanding how schools compare in these important areas, you can identify the best fit for your goals. Let’s get started! 

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Law School Acceptance Rates in California

Acceptance Rates: What the Numbers Really Mean? One of the first things applicants look at is a law school’s acceptance rate – the percentage of applicants offered admission in a given year. At a glance, lower acceptance rates imply a more selective, prestigious school. However, acceptance rates need to be considered in the proper context.

The table below shows acceptance rates for California’s top 21 law schools based on 2023 data from Law School Transparency. As you can see, acceptance rates range widely from 12% to 83%. 

School Name

Acceptance 

Rate

Median LSAT

Median GPA

Stanford University Law School

12%

171

3.89

University of California, Berkeley School of Law

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22%

166

3.78

University of California Los Angeles School of Law

30%

166

3.74

University of Southern California School of Law

30%

166

3.76

University of California Davis School of Law

32%

163

3.51

Whittier Law School

63%

148

2.85

Pepperdine Caruso School of Law

49%

159

3.6

University of California Hastings School of Law

43%

159

3.5

Loyola Law School

43%

159

3.51

University of San Diego School of Law

41%

159

3.52

Santa Clara University School of Law

61%

155

3.23

Chapman University, Fowler School of Law

48%

156

3.33

University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

73%

151

3.15

Golden Gate University School of Law

67%

148

2.94

University of San Francisco School of Law

62%

152

3.13

Southwestern University School of Law

60%

152

3.17

Western State College of Law

63%

148

3.07

California Western School of Law

70%

150

3.15

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

83%

144

2.74

University of La Verne College of Law

65%

147

2.9

University of California, Irvine School of Law

25%

167

3.72

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At first glance, Stanford seems incredibly selective, with a 12% rate. However, acceptance rates alone don’t paint the full picture. More highly ranked schools receive many more qualified applications, allowing them to be more selective.

Additionally, some law schools like the Thomas Jefferson School of Law strategically target less qualified applicants to maintain a high acceptance rate while still graduating attorneys who pass the bar at a decent rate. Their mission differs from elite schools aiming to place graduates at top firms.

The bottom line? Don’t rely solely on acceptance rates. When choosing, consider data like employment outcomes, bar passage rates, costs and mission alignment instead of rankings alone. Prestige doesn’t guarantee career success or personal fit. 

Beyond Acceptance Rates: Key Data to Inform Your Decision

To make an informed choice, it’s important to look beyond simple acceptance rates and consider several other important factors:

Employment Outcomes

Knowing what percentage of recent graduates obtain full-time, long-term bar passage required or J.D. advantage jobs within 10 months can help gauge a school’s career placement success. Elite programs tend to place well into top firms, while others succeed more in government and public interest.

Bar Passage Rates

Passing the bar exam is essential to practice law. Consider first-time and overall bar passage rates to compare how well schools prepare students. Rates generally correlate to school rank/prestige, but mission and support services also impact outcomes.

Costs and Financial Aid

Legal education is expensive. Compare total costs, including tuition, fees, living expenses and opportunity costs. Consider merit-based aid, need-based aid, average debt loads and employment outcomes that could help repay loans. In-state public options often provide the best value.

See also  Top Part-time Law Schools in California in 2024

Academic Programs and Specializations

Research programs of interest like business law, intellectual property, environmental law or dual degrees. Consider faculty credentials and special resources available for your goals.

Culture and Support Services

Some emphasize bar prep support, while others focus more on public interest or networking opportunities. Campus culture, diversity, academic support, career counselling and mentorship also impact the experience.

Let’s now take a deeper look at how some top California law schools compare based on these key metrics:

Comparing Data Across Top California Law Schools

To illustrate how the above factors really differentiate schools, here is a snapshot of data for 5 top programs:

Stanford Law School

  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Bar Passage Rate: 97% first-time takers
  • Employment Rate: 96% in full-time, long-term positions requiring bar passage
  • Avg. Annual Cost: $80,000 (including living expenses)
  • Programs: Intellectual property, international law

UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)

  • Acceptance Rate: 22%
  • Bar Passage Rate: 94% first-time takers
  • Employment Rate: 94% in full-time, long-term positions
  • Avg. Annual Cost: $36,000 (in-state), $56,000 (out-of-state)
  • Programs: Business law, environmental law

UCLA School of Law

  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Bar Passage Rate: 92% first-time takers
  • Employment Rate: 92% in full-time, long-term positions
  • Avg. Annual Cost: $38,000 (in-state), $58,000 (out-of-state)
  • Programs: Critical race studies, entertainment law

USC Gould School of Law

  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Bar Passage Rate: 88% first-time takers
  • Employment Rate: 91% in full-time, long-term positions
  • Avg. Annual Cost: $60,000
  • Programs: Business law, trial advocacy

UC Irvine School of Law

  • Acceptance Rate: 25%
  • Bar Passage Rate: 86% of first-time takers
  • Employment Rate: 89% in full-time, long-term positions
  • Avg. Annual Cost: $32,000 (in-state), $52,000 (out-of-state)
  • Programs: Law and technology, health law
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As you can see, while acceptance rates vary widely, bar passage and employment outcomes still correlate strongly to a school’s overall prestige/rankings. Costs also differ substantially between private and public options. These metrics provide a more nuanced look than rankings alone.

Additional Considerations

When choosing between compelling programs, other important factors to research include:

  • Location Preferences – Where you want to live, work and access legal communities post-graduation.
  • Campus Culture – Diversity, academic rigour, support services, extracurricular opportunities.
  • Specialized Resources – Moot court, law reviews, clinics/externships relevant to your goals.
  • Faculty Excellence – Publications, specializations, and mentorship are available in your interests.
  • Financial Aid – Merit scholarships, need-based aid, loan repayment programs.
  • Personal Fit – Mission alignment, vibe, and atmosphere conducive to your success.

Weighing both hard data and soft factors will lead you to schools optimally suited to your career ambitions and learning style. Feel free to reach out to current students and alumni as well.

Conclusion

As one of the top states for legal education, California offers tremendous options for aspiring attorneys. However, with 21 accredited law schools, deciding where to apply and enrol can feel daunting. This guide aimed to cut through the noise by highlighting acceptance rates in proper context alongside essential metrics like employment outcomes, bar exam success rates, costs and specialized programs.

Considering key data points and additional factors like location, culture, resources, and personal fit will help you make informed choices aligned with your goals. Elite prestige doesn’t guarantee career satisfaction or skill development. By selecting programs optimally suited to your ambitions, talents and learning preferences, your likelihood of thriving increases exponentially. This overview provides a solid starting point for crafting your law school list – now get out there and start your exciting journey towards becoming an attorney in California! 

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