California LAW A diversity educational pipeline from 9th grade to law school

“I always dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but never knew thought I would have a chance. With the Pathway to Law program at my college, my childhood dream can now come true.” Law Pathway Student

About Us

California LAW Leadership – Access – Workforce is an organization created to be the foundational structure that connects, communicates, collaborates, and coordinates with programs working to help diverse students enter the legal profession. It consists of 22 high school law academies created under the California Partnership Academy model in a unique collaboration between the State Bar of California and the California Department of Education. Additionally, it includes members of the Community College Pathway to Law School initiative with 29 community colleges throughout the state, 9 undergraduate institutions and their law schools, resulting in an educational pipeline into the legal profession created under the leadership of the State Bar of California's Council on Access and Fairness.

Our Mission

To establish a pipeline of diverse students from high schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and law schools into law or law-related careers so that the legal profession reflects the diverse population of the State of California.

Board Members

W. Davis Smith (Chair), John Trasvina (Vice Chair), Emily Quinlan (Secretary), Linda Kingston (Treasurer), Thuy Thi Nguyen, Ruthe Ashley (Executive Director Emeritus), Patricia Lee, Frankie Guzman, Carol Ross- Burnett and Garner Weng. More information about the Board can be found here.

Program Staff

The California LAW Program is a fiscally sponsored program under the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the official auxiliary non-profit for the California Community College Chancellor's Office. More information about the Foundation can be found here.

Staff Leads: Elaine Reodica, Director of Collaborative Services (bio) and Jennifer Le, Program Coordinator (bio).

Community College Pathway to Law School Initiative

The Community College Pathway to Law School initiative is an innovative, unprecedented program in the United States that helps diversify the legal profession in California. It provides a clear pathway from community college to law school through support for students, including mentoring and pre-law counseling, and professional development activities for faculty members.

The Community College Pathway to Law School initiative requires the completion of courses that are based on a defined set of “success factors” that help make effective lawyers. The initiative aligns criteria from the “success factors” with California Community College courses already approved in corresponding Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) areas in order to prepare students for law school and the legal profession prior to transfer.

Our vision is to have a diverse legal profession that is more reflective of today’s changing demographic.

California Law Academies

In 2010, the State Bar created a unique partnership with the California Department of Education to build its first 6 high school law academies under the California Partnership Academy model. Created by the California Legislature in 1986, it required that students in these classrooms be at least 50% at risk and be in high schools of 350+ students. High school students receive a law class starting in the 10th grade - every day for 3 years. The law academies are supported by a volunteer group of lawyers and judges under the California Law Academy Support Council (CLAS). More than 1200 legal professionals give their time, energy, and funds to work with these students.

Annual Pathway to Law Summit

The 2020 Pathway to Law Summit was held on February 21-22, 2020 at Santa Clara University School of Law in Santa Clara, California. Over 150 attendees participated in the event which included keynote speakers, professional development, interactive panels, focused breakouts, faculty collaboration sessions, and a special student program including dialogue with pathway partners, a law school tour, and a mock law school classroom setting. Access the 2020 Summit Schedule here.

Volunteer Today

How can you support the California LAW Program?

  • Volunteer to mentor, present or participate in programming for the high school and community college partner schools.
  • Provide trainings to faculty champions.
  • Sponsor or present at the Annual Pathway to Law Summit.
  • Be a Cal LAW Business Partner and support year-round programming and initiatives.
  • Provide internships and much needed resources to Cal LAW students.
  • Share your resources (webinars, tools, etc) with the Cal LAW network.