Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by II Editor
Choosing the right law school is a major decision that will impact your legal career and future. While competitive top-tier schools lead to more prestigious jobs, the reality is they are very difficult to gain admission to. If your primary goal is to become a practising attorney and you don’t have the strongest academic credentials, focusing on some of the easiest law schools to get into in California may be a smarter path.
This guide examines the 10 law schools in California that generally have the lowest admissions standards based on quantitative data like acceptance rates and student LSAT/GPA profiles. While no school guarantees acceptance, these programs tend to be most accommodating to applicants with lower test scores or undergraduate GPAs. Read on to identify potential fits and learn key facts about each option that could put you on a path to becoming a Juris Doctor.
Top 10 Easiest law schools to Get into in California
Below is a curated list of some of the easiest law schools to get into in California.
#1. San Joaquin College of Law
San Joaquin College of Law has a mission of increasing access to legal education and has built a reputation as one of the easiest law schools to get into in California. It is a private, non-profit law school located in Clovis. According to LSAC data, San Joaquin had an overall acceptance rate of 84% for the 2022-2023 enrollment year.
The middle 50% LSAT score range for entering students was 143-149, and the middle 50% GPA range was 2.64-3.21. These figures indicate the law school evaluates applications holistically and understands lower standardized test results or grades. Timely graduates of San Joaquin also tend to pass the bar exam on the first attempt at a solid rate between 70-80%.
San Joaquin is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) of the State Bar of California. Graduating from an accredited law school is required before sitting for the bar exam in California. Other pros of attending are flexible scheduling with day, evening and weekend class sessions plus affordable tuition, currently around $24,000 annually. The smaller class sizes also allow for more individualized attention.
#2. La Verne College of Law
La Verne College of Law is the second easiest law school to gain admission to in the Golden State, based on stats. It has a main campus in Ontario and an additional Riverside location. For the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, La Verne’s overall acceptance rate was 86%.
The middle 50% of LSAT scores for incoming students ranged from 143-148, and GPAs fell between 2.70-3.19. Similar to San Joaquin, La Verne has a mission focused on accessibility and evaluates applications holistically, considering factors beyond numbers. It also has full ABA accreditation and a productive alumni network that provides graduates opportunities in Southern California and beyond.
Tuition at La Verne comes near the average for private law schools in California at approximately $28,000 per year. It has also achieved solid bar passage results, with 77-83% of first-time test takers clearing the exam over recent years. Overall, it’s an affordable accredited option that gives chances to candidates who may not meet the top 25% standards elsewhere.
#3. Santa Barbara and Ventura College of Law
At number 3 is the Santa Barbara and Ventura College of Law, which is currently located in Camarillo. This school rose up the ranks as one of the easiest to gain entrance to, with an impressive acceptance rate of 90% for fall 2023 applicants.
The middle 50% LSAT scores for the latest entering class came in at 143-149, and GPAs ranged from 2.64-3.22. With low standards relative to California peers, Santa Barbara/Ventura College of Law provides an avenue into the legal profession for applicants with less competitive academic profiles.
Like the above schools, it has full ABA accreditation, and graduates have achieved a solid 72% first-time California bar exam pass rate. The unique Ventura County campus also aims to meet regional workforce demands. However, it is a relatively expensive private option, with tuition estimated at around $40,000 per academic year. But for candidates who can’t gain admission anywhere else, it remains worth considering to start on the path to becoming an attorney.
#4. San Diego University
Changing gears to a public institution, San Diego University places 4th in terms of easiest admission among California law schools. It also made it to our list of law schools near the beach. For fall 2023, its overall acceptance rate clocked in at 56%, while the combined LSAT/GPA ranges were 143-151 and 2.62-3.38, respectively.
Funded by taxpayer dollars, USD Law offers a more affordable education than other private programs. Current in-state tuition costs approximately $31,000 per year. As a public school, it aims to serve state residents over out-of-state students and international applicants. USD Law also has full ABA approval and solid bar exam success rates in the 75-80%.
Graduating from a lower-ranked but ABA-accredited California law school makes students eligible to sit for the bar and work as lawyers within the state if they pass. USD Law provides this pathway while maintaining reasonable admissions criteria and affordability to set up in-state candidates for lifelong careers in the California legal system.
#5. Southern California Institute of Law
The Southern California Institute of Law breaks into the top five easiest schools to get admitted to in California. For fall 2023 applicants, it approved 69% of candidates who applied.
Median LSAT/GPA data placed entering students in the 143-149 and 2.72-3.26 ranges, respectively, demonstrating lower numerical expectations. SCIL has accreditation through the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners to issue Juris Doctor (JD) degrees. This permits graduates eligibility to take the bar exam and work in legal positions in California.
With a yearly tuition estimated at around $24,000, SCIL remains a cost-effective accredited JD program. It also implements an academic support and bar prep curriculum. Nearly 70% of first-time test takers have succeeded in passing the bar despite the school’s lower admissions cutoffs. For Californians seeking entry into the field, SCIL could be a pragmatic choice.
#6. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Shifting to the San Diego area, Thomas Jefferson School of Law makes the cut as the 6th most accommodating law school selection in the Golden State. For fall 2023, it approved 65% of total applicants.
Median LSAT scores hovered at 143-148, while GPAs clocked in from 2.67-3.23. Jefferson Law carries full ABA accreditation, allowing access to take the California bar exam. It has a long history, established in 1969, and facilities located right in downtown San Diego are desirable for commuter students.
Current tuition rates for residents and non-residents stay close to the state average, nearly $32,000 per academic year. While lower than top-tier options, Jefferson Law still provides affordability and solid bar passage of around 75% to put eager candidates from across the qualifications spectrum on track to become California attorneys.
#7. University of West Los Angeles
Continuing south, the University of West Los Angeles receives the #7 spot on this countdown of easiest law schools in California. In the fall of 2023, UWLA welcomed 61% of the total applicants into its program.
The middle 50% of entering students posted LSAT scores between 143 and 149, with GPAs in the 2.65-3.25 range. It is fully accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners to confer JDs. It prepares students well for the California bar exam at a 70-80% first-time pass rate over recent years.
Compared to other private non-profit options, UWLA has a more reasonable annual tuition, nearer $25,000. Plus, it allocates strong academic support resources and career services to lift graduates. Overall, candidates aiming to break into the California legal market through an affordable accredited program will want to consider this West LA campus.
#8. University of San Diego School of Law
At number 8 is the University of San Diego’s School of Law, another ABA-approved public institution in the San Diego area. USD Law welcomed 57% of applicants for the 2023 entering class.
Median LSAT scores came in at 151, with GPAs ranging from 3.16 – 3.49, making it the most selective school profiled thus far. However, it still manages lesser standards relative to elite private competitors. Resident tuition maintains affordability at around $30,000 per year, supported by state funding mechanisms.
The ABA stamp ensures eligibility for the California bar, plus USD Law graduates have achieved 70-80% first-time passage rates. Its San Diego location near courthouses also enhances clinical and externship opportunities compared to more distant campuses. Earning a Juris Doctor here provides a credible launch pad into the California legal sphere.
#9. San Francisco Law School
San Francisco Law School takes pride in its proximity to courts and government offices, enhancing experiential learning. Around 70-80% of graduates have also cleared the first California bar hurdle. While not the most difficult to enter, earning a degree here still cultivates valuable legal skills and connections in the heart of Northern California. For applicants seeking entry into the profession near the Bay Area, it merits consideration.
#10. Lincoln Law School of San Jose
Finally, Lincoln Law School of San Jose sits at the 10th spot for the easiest law school to gain admission to in California. It welcomed 52% of applicants for fall 2023 entry.
Median LSAT scores for incoming 1Ls landed between 143-148. GPA requirements hovered from 2.68-3.23. Tuition costs a reasonable $26,000 per year for a private non-profit institution. Full State Bar of California approval means JD recipients can take the bar and work in legal jobs statewide if they pass.
Almost 70% of first-time test takers have proven bar-ready from Lincoln Law based on data. Plus, a convenient South Bay location between San Francisco and San Jose creates local opportunities to build an attorney practice. For applicants seeking the most lenient standards to start down the path to becoming California lawyers, Lincoln Law makes the top 10 list.
In conclusion, while the tough competition for places at prestigious top-tier law schools often discourages some candidates, California offers accredited ABA programs that take a holistic view beyond numbers. Gaining entrance into one of the 10 easiest options profiled here puts Juris Doctor pursuits genuinely in reach.
Graduating from any fully approved law school permits sitting for the all-important California bar exam. Passing opens the doors to legal employment in both public and private sectors throughout the state. For applicants aiming to become practising attorneys accessible to clients everywhere, from Silicon Valley to Southern California beaches, these schools warrant the strongest consideration.