The 10 Best Law Schools in California

While some colleges in California may be associated with entrepreneurship and technology, thanks in large part to the presence of high-quality universities in Silicon Valley, many of the world’s most outstanding law schools also call California their home.

Indeed, numerous Golden State universities are among the best places to study law and gain serious lawyering skills. Many, if not most, schools are in or around the most populous and thriving centers of the state, providing aspiring lawyers a plethora of opportunities for hands-on training.

The colleges in this article were ranked based on each school’s placement in the US News list of law schools. These law schools boast some of the nation’s highest post-graduation employment rates and average first-time bar pass rates. Additionally, the caliber of faculty and their scholarly or field contributions is exceptionally high. Finally, these schools hold myriads of opportunities for experiential education and the development of practical skills.

What does California offer the aspiring lawyer and legal advocate? Let’s take a look…

10. University of San Diego School of Law (San Diego, CA)

University of San Diego School of Law
photo via Wikimedia Commons

With famous alumni and stunning views of the Pacific, the University of San Diego School of Law has a lot to offer the aspiring lawyer. Former and current students are highly-profiled for their accomplishments, in addition to being actively employed in the field of law. Overall, a high number of USD law school graduates are gainfully employed and earn an average bar pass rate of around 70%.

Employment prospects, bar pass rates, and location are not the only factors that matter. Curriculum, unique clinics, and experiential learning can make a school stand out from the rest. Applicants who are passionate about law and education advocacy can enroll in the Special Education Law and Advocacy seminar. The USD School of Law is home to a variety of centers and institutes, from the ​Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics to the Institute of Law and Philosophy.

USD School of Law has an illustrious and reputable Clinical Education Program that bridges classroom learning with practical skills and experience. Students become successful lawyers by serving low-income residents throughout San Diego, making their education and contributions, in and outside of the classroom, socially meaningful. 

9. Loyola Marymount University Loyola Law School (Los Angeles, CA)

Located in downtown LA, the Loyola Law School at Loyola Marymount University has a stellar profile. According to the US News and World Report, LLS tops the Criminal Law and Public Interest, Trial Advocacy, Entertainment Law, Music Law, and Moot Court lists. The school is right in the middle of a diverse and sprawling metropolis, with access to a plethora of opportunities.

Students with a strong social-justice focus will be able to make an impact through the Social Justice Law Clinic, which has served over 74,000 clients in the LA area since 1996. LLS has a prolific faculty, many of whom have had federal judicial clerkships and are distinguished academics in their field of law. For those who want to grapple with the legal issues posed by rapidly changing technology, Loyola offers a new program in cybersecurity and data privacy law.

Loyola graduates’ pass rate on the bar exam is around 72%, exceeding the national average among ABA-approved law schools. Around 90% of graduates find employment within 10 months of graduation.

8. University of California Hastings College of Law (San Francisco, CA)

University of California Hastings School of Law
photo via Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that the 49th Vice President of the US, Kamala Harris, first female VP and first VP of color in US history, proudly displays a diploma from the University California Hastings College of Law in her office? Well, she probably does. Hastings College of Law can boast about its high-profile alumni, among many other things.

The school boasts a Moot Court Team that ranks #1 in the nation and an outstandingly high bar pass rate of 86% among its graduates. Ten of its programs rank highly nationally, as well. Among these reputable programs are Dispute Resolution, Healthcare Law, and Tax Law. Examples of HCS’s successes and accomplishments abound. 

Further proof of its rising status, besides recent rankings of its program, is its recent, bold plan to build the Academic Village in the heart of San Francisco. This expansion will enhance the experience of law students and the area.

7. Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law (Malibu, CA)

Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law
photo via Wikimedia Commons

Given its location along the beautiful coastline of a beach city, it is no wonder it ranked #10 for “Best Quality of Life” on Princeton Review’s 2021 Law School Ratings. More importantly, the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law ranks among the top 50 law schools in the country, according to US News. It is the only school on this list that earns the badge for ideological diversity among its faculty, in addition to a diverse student body.

The school operates a notable Global Justice Program that is focused on international human rights, religious freedom, and rule of law. Students and faculty are sent to various countries to represent vulnerable populations and help strengthen justice systems in accordance with these rights. 

As part of its highly distinguished Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Caruso students can participate in real mediation cases throughout LA through the institute’s Mediation Clinic. Overall, students have access to numerous opportunities for experiential learning, an essential stepping-stone into law practice. 

Given its outstanding programs, opportunities for professional development, and location, it is no wonder that Pepperdine’s Caruso School of Law’s acceptance rate hovers around a low 20%. 



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