Unaccredited Attorneys

Discussion in 'Accreditation Discussions (RA, DETC, state approva' started by russ, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. russ

    russ New Member

    I have found it very interesting that the California State Bar does not care if you have an unaccredited degree or not in order to take the state bar exam and become a licensed attorney in California. Not only that, but they don't require an undergraduate degree at all to sit for the bar.

    Although I have a lot of differences with the great state of California and Californians in general (too many of them moving to Oregon), I have to admire the position they have taken on this issue. They seem to think that if you have the brains to study law that they will give you the opportunity to go to law school by passing only three CLEP exams. No degree is required. If you can complete the baby bar and the final bar exam, you will become a legitimate licensed attorney authorized to practice law in the state of California and have your JD.
  2. Jake_A

    Jake_A New Member

    .... and I was hoping that we had seen the last of this notorious KWE diploma mill shill and self-proclaimed champion of other unaccredited entities.

    Ready? Set? Whack-a-mole! Go!!

  3. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Cqalifornia isn't QUITE as liberal as you seem to think.

    -There are two classes of "accredited" schools, ABA and CalBar. You will find that every other option, unaccredited schools, correspondence study, and apprenticeship, require four years of study and passage of the First Year Law Students' Examination, A.K.A. the Baby Bar. Passage rate is low. Real low.

    -Technically, any ABA school can routinely admit students with 90 s.h. instead of a full 120 s.h. B.A. in hand. They don't, largely because there is a lot of competition for seats in ABA schools so the schools themselves can require the B.A. (Note: a handful of states require a B.A.)

    -Equally technically, any ABA school can admit the occasional student with less than 90 s.h. It makes the papers when they do, but it CAN be done.

    -Most four year colleges will accept CLEP testing for lower division credit anyway. California mentions CLEP tests in its rules largely, I suspect, because California actually imposes minimum prelegal education requirements. Far and away most states do not.

    -California is far from the only state that permits all or part of a legal education to be obtained through apprenticeship.

    -California does not permit admission by reciprocity, unlike about 22 other states.

    And finally,

    -California sets the hardest, nastiest Bar exam in the country. Maybe tied with New York.

    Overall, it is probably harder to become a lawyer in California than in any other state.
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Oh, I forgot to mention: California is not by any means the only state that has Bar accredited, non ABA law schools. Others include Massachucetts, Alabama, Tennessee, and I think Georgia? The New England states in general will allow graduates of Massachucetts' two non ABA schools to take their Bar exams as well.
  5. tcnixon

    tcnixon Active Member

    And this has always been the funny-in-a-sad-sort-of-way part of this whole equation. We're going to take people who have to pass California's crazy-hard bar exam and let them study in a manner that is even more difficult (to be successful) than traditional law school.

    While a couple of the schools do reasonably well, most do not.

    Tom Nixon
  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Even most of the private, ABA schools in California have first time taker pass rates of around 50%.

    Of course, eventually, nearly everybody who keeps at it passes but retesting is a time consuming and expensive exercise.
  7. tcnixon

    tcnixon Active Member

    Yes, my wife's cousin passed the California bar on, I believe, her seventh attempt. She was asked to leave her first law school because her GPA fell too low. She went from an RA, but not ABA, law school to a CalBar approved only program.

    She now practices family law and does reasonably well as a sole practitioner.

    Tom Nixon
  8. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Good for her! :)

    There was an article a few months ago in the California Bar journal about a fellow who took the exam forty times, or something, and JUST passed it.

    It should be noted that first time pass rates for the four UC law schools are around 80% and for U.S.C. and Stanford are even a bit higher.

    I doubt that the education is that much better; I suspect that the quality of the student has more to do with it.

    LSAT scores are closely corrolated with first time pass rates. The two most prestigious private schools will attract top students and, of course, competition for admission to the somewhat less expensive UC schools is cutthroat.

    Anyway, these pass rates ar within reason for Bar exams all over the country.

    NB: Then there's good old non ABA LaVern with its 80% in the July 2004 exam. An outlier?
  9. obecve

    obecve New Member

    I may be wrong, but I think I remember that both JFK and JFK Jr. required mutliple attempts before passing the bar?
  10. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Could be.

    As it turns out, BTW, LSAT scores are a predictor of first time taker Bar pass rates. So are first year class standing and overall class standing. And, of course, the LSAT is a valid predictor of law school performance. Moral: Pay attention to your LSAT score! It may be trying to TELL you something.

    russ is right in one respect; California is the only state to allow D/L J.D. grads to take the Bar right after graduation. Of course, about half of the states will allow a California lawyer with a few years of experience to take their Bar exam regardless of how he earned his J.D.
  11. russ

    russ New Member

    Thanks for your comments, Nosborne.

    Although passing rates may be lower for those who do not have a undergraduate degree, they are given the opportunity to take the exam and become a licensed attorney by studying only their chosen profession, law. In other words, the state of California takes the position that you can concentrate only on law (without the entire curriculum of an undergraduate degree) and still be a fully competent attorney.

    Since law is one of our most professional of occupations, could you not apply this same standard to other professions where a student could concentrate only on that coursework for that profession and pass a professional licensing exam for the profession itself without having a degree, accredited or unaccredited. For example, the CPA exam in Oregon requires you to have an undergraduate degree but, frankly, accounting can be learned by anyone in no more than two years if they concentrating just on accounting courses so a degree is really not necessary to be a competent CPA.

    Are undergraduate degrees all that necessary for most occupations or are the professions helping fund higher education by creating barriers to entry into the "professional class" by requiring a full four year degree?
  12. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member


    Unaccredited attorney

    Medals Awarded from Russian Federation


    Juris Doctorate - Northrop SOL (valedictorian)
    Juris Doctorate Theology - Oxford (Ed Net)
    Juris Doctorate - IUFS (Russia) - Oxford (Ed Net )
    PhD Philosophy/Humanities Human Rights - Oxford (Ed Net - ITU)
    Divinity Doctorate - Oxford (Ed Net)
    Each With Honours

    2002 Academacia Award from the Russian Academy of Sciences





    Juris Doctor - Northrop University SOL Valedictorian

    Juris Doctor - IUFS Russia Honors

    Juris Doctor - Oxford Ed. Net. - Honors Theologial Law

    Ph. D. - Oxford Ed. Net. - Honors Philosophy

    D. D. - Oxford Ed. Net. - Honors in Human Rights

    Additional Information

    2003 Recipient Academician - Russian Academy of Sciences

    Favorite Links


    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2005
  13. agilham

    agilham New Member

    I rather suspect that applying for ABA accreditation has focused their mind somewhat on their bar passage rates, especially in view of the well-publicised problems at Western State. Also, did they always ask for an LSAT? That must weed out a fair number of weaker candidates.

  14. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I don't know off hand if LaVern always required the LSAT. They have probably demanded SOME sort of law school admission test, however, because that's one of the standards in the CalBar rules for accrediting law schools.

    All of the CalBar accredited schools now require the LSAT, as far as I know. That's one reason why some unaccredited schools remain unaccredited; they wish to maintain as open an admissions policy as possible.

    I think russ missed my point earlier; California is NOT liberal as to its pre legal education requirements. They require proof of at least two years of B.A. level work, either in the form of credits from accredited schools or CLEP test scores acceptable to accredited schools.



    when I graduatedad from La Verne 10 years ago the pass rate was 77%. And yes, they do require LSAT for admission.
  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I had a very good friend/office space share person who was a LaVern J.D. He didn't know what accreditation WAS until our glorious New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners informed him that his degree wasn't and could he produce proof of active practice in four of the last five (or whatever) years?

    He could and did, passed our Bar exam easily on his first attempt, and worked in private and state practice here for several years before moving to Maine.

    LaVern is a damned good school. I often wonder why they talk about ABA accreditation but never seem to achieve it? My SPECULATION is that they rely too heavily on part time faculty to meet ABA requirements.

    If so, I don't consider that to be a BAD thing. Rather the reverse!
  17. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Mmmm... not so much, I think. I suspect that the Committee of Bar Examiners would prefer a BA or BS; that it sort of shrugs its shoulders and says, in effect, and perhaps in resignation, "oh, alright... fine" to AA and AS degrees; and that it sort of only grudgingly accepts 60 hours of transferable lower-division credit in lieu of any of the foregoing.

    But after that, I just don't think it's accurate to characterize the CLEP credits that the Committee will accept in lieu of any of the foregoing as actually being equivalent to 60 semester hours (or two years-worth) of transferable credit.

    According to the "Pre-legal Education" page on the Northwestern California University School of Law (NWCULAW) web site, the California Committee of Bar Examiners will accept, as pre-legal education, passing scores on each of three 90 minute CLEP exams, to wit:
    • The CLEP English Composition exam, or the English Composition with Essay exam, must be taken and passed with a score of at least 50; and,
    • any two of the CLEP Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Science and History exams must be taken and passed with a score of at least 50 on each.
    None of the above would add-up to 60 hours of coursework. In fact, at most regionally-accredited U.S. colleges/universities, it would probably shake-out something more like this:
    • English Composition (either version): 6 semester hours of credit
    • Humanities: 3 to 6 semester hours of credit
    • Mathematics: No more than 3 semester hours of credit
    • Natural Science: 3 to 6 semester hours of credit
    • Social Science and History: 3 to 6 semester hours of credit
    for a total of 12 to 18 semester hours of credit for anyone taking English Composition (either version) plus any two of the others, as prescribed by CalBar; or a grand total, in any case, of only 18 to 30 semester hours if anyone took and passed all of them. That's a far cry from being the equivalent of 60 semester hours -- in fact, it's barely half that, at best.

    This, to me, has always been interestingly revealing; and helps one to see precisely which part of an AA, AS (or of a BA or BS, for that matter) degree the Committee of Bar Examiners most wants its law students to have mastered... and that would be lower-division, General Education coursework.

    This is further evidenced by the fact that AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degrees are not acceptable to the Committee of Bar Examiners. After all, one of the differentiating features of an AAS degree is, typically, that it requires approximately half (sometimes far less than half) the amount of lower-division, down-and-dirty, gotta'-take-it-whether-I-want-to-or-not "general education" coursework as a typical AA or AS degree requires... or as a typical BA or BS degree requires, as well, now that I think about it.

    Though I am loathe to agree with russ on this or... well... really... pretty much anything, now that I think about it, I believe that there is truth in at least this part of his thread-starting post here:
    I think that's exactly what the California legislature and this state's Committee of Bar Examiners intended; and I think that that noble and honorable intention helps give meaning to the word "great" whenever one refers to this place as "The Great State of California;" and, therefore, I am extremely distressed that in order for any of California's unaccredited or merely registered law schools to achieve DETC accreditation, they must strike from their admissions policies the "entrance by CLEP exam" option so that they will then be in keeping with DETC's admissions standards.

    I covered this extensively a while back in a thread entitled: "DETC usurps CalBar's wishes and intent!", which I invite everyone here to read carefully and thoughtfully, and then to take the action called-for at the end of my thread-starting post there.

    As long as we're talking about all this CLEP stuff, I want to point-out a small but nevertheless real potential problem with CLEPing-in to any CalBar-approved J.D. program -- be it D/L or otherwise. Said problem is regarding how the actual names of the CLEP exams, as shown on the College Board web site, differ slightly from how they're listed by CalBar in its various official documents.

    Under its "Rules Regulating Accreditation of Law Schools in California; Factors and Comments Governing the Interpretation and Application of the Standards," in a comment under Section 2.01(G), Sub-section 3.C, CalBar writes:
    • "The Committee currently requires applicants to take and achieve specific scores on examinations administered by the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Applicants must have a score of at least 500 for the English Composition or English Composition with Essay examination administered by CLEP. In addition, applicants must have a score of at least 430 on each of the two of the following tests administered by CLEP: Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and History."
    Most, if not all, of the California law schools that allow students to "CLEP-in" to their programs use this nearly identical language when listing the acceptable CLEP exams. However, if you look, closely, at the list of exams on the College Board web site -- and, most importantly, at their precise names -- you'll find the following:
    1. CalBar calls it "English Composition" or "English Composition with Essay;" and that's also what the College Board calls that(those) CLEP exam(s)... so that one's okay.
    2. CalBar calls it "Humanties;" and, indeed, there's a "Humanities exam on the College Board web site... so that one's okay, too.
    3. CalBar calls it "Mathematics;" but there is no CLEP exam called, simply, "Mathematics" on the College Board web site. There is a "Science and Mathematics" category; and within it are several math exams, including the "College Mathematics" exam... which I'm guessing is what CalBar meant; but is that really a safe assumption when so much is at stake?
    4. CalBar calls it "Natural Sciences;" and there is, in fact, a "Natural Sciences" exam on the College Board web site... so that one's okay.
    5. CalBar calls it "Social Sciences," and then follows with the word "History," but separated by a comma so as to suggest that they are separate exams. However, there is no "Social Sciences" exam, nor is there a "History" exam. However, there is a "Social Sciences and History" exam... which I'm guessing is what CalBar meant; but is that really a safe assumption when so much is at stake?[/list=1]Clearly, if you interpret CalBar's language literally and precisely, there's a problem, as set forth in items 3 and 5, above, which involves either two or three of the CalBar-described CLEP exams, depending on how you interpret the comma described in item 5.

      I called this discrepancy -- and the potential confusion and harm that could be caused thereby -- to both Northwestern California University School of Law (as the owner of just one of the D/L J.D. program web sites which bear said discrepancy); as well as to Michele Rioux, Assistant to Gayle Murphy of the Committee of Bar Examiners, via email, back on April 23, 2004. In said email I made the very presumptions about what CalBar actually meant as set forth in items 3 and 5, above; and I suggested the following alternative way of describing the Cal-Bar-acceptable CLEP exams so that all ambiguity would be eliminated:
      • "The CLEP "English Composition" or "English Composition with Essay" exam, from the CLEP "Composition and Literature" category, must be taken and a score of at least 50 must be achieved. In addition, any two of the following CLEP exams must be taken and a score of at least 50 on both must be achieved: "Humanties" (from the CLEP "Composition and Literature" category), "Social Sciences and History" (from the CLEP "History and Social Sciences" category), "College Mathematics" (from the CLEP "Science and Mathematics" category), and "Natural Sciences" (from the CLEP "Science and Mathematics" category)."
      Though it appears that NWCULAW has since removed from its web site the notorious and confusing comma described in item 5, above; the "Mathematics" confusion, as described in item 3, above, remains; and I have, nevertheless, heard not so much as a grunt from either of them in acknowledgement or reply.

      [sigh] :rolleyes:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2005
  18. russ

    russ New Member


    I know this was extremely painful but I do appreciate it. I agree with you that DETC should not override the intent of the California legislature and bar for their own arbitrary standard. I am curious; do DETC admission standards for law school require a full BA/BS degree or do they allow the two-year (60 credits)? In other words, do they eliminate the CLEP standard as well as the AA or 60 credit standard to become DETC accredited or just the CLEP? I assume from what you said they only require elimination of the CLEP entry which makes no sense to me.
  19. russ

    russ New Member

    It was my assumption that most every other state required a BA/BS to attend law school and that California was truly an exception. Oregon requires a degree before entering law school and I think Washington does as well. I guess I need to research that a bit more if what you say is true. Thanks for the information.
  20. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    I cannot begin to tell you, russ, how much I'd rather it wouldn't be painful. Through all the bad things we've said to one another in your short time here, do you think I haven't noticed how obviously intelligent you are? And how much you could contribute here -- and how respected you'd be -- if you weren't so radically anti-Alan Contreras and everything that he, and others around here, stand for; and if you didn't at least appear to be some kind of troll or shill or some weird combination of the two? I can't tell you much I'd enjoy discussions here with you if you weren't such a pot-stirrer. And you're not stupid, russ. I know that you know what you're doing... and what a sh_t-disturber you like being. You may think that makes you seem clever, but it just makes you look immature and, worse, unable to integrate facts into your body of knowledge and then to change your opinions accordingly -- one of the surest signs of maturity. I would love, russ, to someday call you a friend, here... and to agree with you without pain... but you make it so difficult... and seemingly intentionally, for its own sake. And you know you do. What kind of silliness is that? I just don't understand that. I really don't. Such potential... squandered.

    And you know what really ticks me off about it? I could be wrong, but from reading your words when you're not irritating the bejesus out of someone I respect, I have a feeling if we'd met some other way, I'd probably like you. What a damned waste! Don't you think?

    I hope you come around. You've got great promise! I mean that from my heart.... and, honestly, I wish I could close my eyes tonight with the knowledge that you'd actually stop for a moment, think about what I've written here, and really and truly take stock and try to come around. But I think my doctor would not be happy with me if I held my breath for that moment.

    Pity. It really does seem like there's an okay guy in there somewhere. But you sure do expend alot of energy making sure no one sees him. It defies logic... which is something I happen to know you're pretty good at. A conundrum, to be sure.

    See! Now wouldn't that have been alot more fun for you to write if you had done so with the knowledge that when I finally read it I wouldn't be muttering under my breath something like, "yeah... well... thanks, but I still think you're a horse's patoot!" Wouldn't it? Hmm? [grin]

    You're correct. DETC only required that the CLEP-only admission methodology be eliminated. The 60-hour AA or AS (but not an AAS) degree is acceptable to DETC. From the DETC-accredited D/L J.D. provider, William Howard Taft University web site:

    • Regular Applicants

      Applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education are considered regular applicants to the Juris Doctor Program. The majority of applicants to this Program are mature adults working in a variety of professional settings. Many have not attended college for several years. Consequently, prior class rank and grade point average are not significant factors in the admission process.

      Special Applicants

      Individuals who have not earned a bachelor’s degree but have earned an Associate in Arts (A.A.) or an Associate in Science (A.S.) degree are eligible to apply for the Program as special applicants. An Associate in Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) degree without additional coursework will not qualify an individual as a special applicant. Many special applicants have been admitted to the Program, graduated, and become successful attorneys. However, because special applicants lack an extensive academic history, they must be interviewed by a representative of the Admissions Office. This interview can either take place at the University’s offices or via telephone.
    What isn't mentioned in Taft's above paragraphs, but which I believe is nevertheless true, is that a person who doesn't have an AA or and AS or a BA or a BS, but who has 60 hours of transferable credit, as specified by CalBar, can qualify as a "special applicant." I don't know why I think that's true, however. Lemmee think...

    ...maybe someone from Taft told me that back when I was asking about the CLEP thing... or maybe they mentioned it in an email or something. I just can't remember... but I'm at least pretty sure that it's true. Hmm.

    Or... wait a minute... maybe it isn't true, but it's a Taft decision (as opposed to a DETC requirement to which Taft is bowing... like when it eliminated its CLEP-only methodology). I'm trying to remember.

    Look... I'll see if I can find that out and then post here... or maybe someone else knows. Do you know, Nos?

    Hope that helps.

    But hoping, even more that I can figure out a way to actually like you someday. Really. From the heart. The ball, however, would appear to be in your court. And taking pot shots at Alan Contreras, like impersonating my ex-wife, will get you nowhere with me.

    It's true. I've actually got that research more than two-thirds done... have had for like... over a year or something... and been meaning to finish it. Recently I started it again and hope it have it done maybe this weekend... after which I'll post it here. But I can tell you that Nos, as usual, is right. Most states just talk about the ABA-approved (and note that they tend not to use the word "accredited" when talking about the ABA... but, rather, "approved") law degree -- or any non-ABA-approved degrees that they'll also take. A very few of them actually address the undergraduate degree; and when they do they usually just say something like "accredited" or "acceptable to the Committee of Bar Examiners." I think one actually uses "regionally-accredited," but I can't remember right now. Another may say something like "accredited by an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education," although I'm having trouble remembering right now if that's actually true. But the bottom line is that the vast majority -- and I mean vast -- of them say nothing about undergraduate work or, more specifically, pre-legal education.

    And why should they, when you think about it? Most states only accept an ABA-approved J.D.; and they all know that virtually no ABA-approved law school, absent an act of God or something of that magnitude, will accept anyone who doesn't have a BA or BS from a college/university accredited by a USDE/CHEA-approved agency. Knowing that, most states realize that they really don't need to address pre-legal education. Typical ABA-approved law school requirements pretty much take care of that problem.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2005

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