Twenty-four community colleges and six law schools sign agreement to ease way to law degree
(Santa Ana)—The California Community Colleges and the State Bar of California today announced a new initiative that will provide students at 24 community colleges a smoother pathway to six of California’s top law schools. Santa Ana College is the only community college in Orange County to be included in this new program.
The Community Colleges Pathway to Law School initiative is an unprecedented effort within public higher education to enhance opportunities and advancement in the legal profession for diverse populations, particularly those who have been underrepresented.
“This exciting new program creates a clear pathway for our students to complete their study of law and achieve their dreams of becoming lawyers,” said Erlinda J. Martinez, Ed.D., president of Santa Ana College. “By easing transfer from community college to university and then to law school, law school becomes much more attainable for our students. By giving them the support they need, the likelihood of their success in law school is heightened. It’s a win/win for our colleges and the community that will benefit from these bright young minds.”
The project, sponsored by the State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness, will establish agreements with two dozen community colleges and six law schools and their respective undergraduate institutions. Students in the program will receive assurances that credits in prescribed courses will transfer, early exposure to the law school experience, individual advisement and mentoring from law school advisors, financial aid counseling, LSAT preparation and waived application fees for admission to the participating law schools.
“We know that our community colleges have the diversity and talent that the State Bar seeks to enhance the diversity pipeline into the legal profession, as evidenced by many prominent judges and lawyers who attended community colleges,” said State Bar CEO Joseph Dunn. “I am particularly grateful to the six law school deans for partnering in this important initiative to increase the diversity and overall quality of the legal profession.”
Participating law schools are University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law and Loyola Law School.
“UC Irvine School of Law is delighted to participate in this program to create a pipeline from the community colleges to law school,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UC Irvine School of Law. “We are confident that this pilot program will enhance the diversity of law schools and the legal profession.”
The Community Colleges Pathway to Law School Initiative requires students to complete courses based on a defined set of “success factors” that help make effective lawyers. The transfer initiative will align criteria from these success factors with community college courses already approved in corresponding Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) to prepare students for law school.
“It’s hard for students to figure out how to go to law school,” said 23-year-old Santa Ana College (SAC) student Christopher Muniz. “This program will be beneficial as it lays out the pathway to law school. It will be helpful to know which classes to take to have a better chance of success.” Santa Ana resident Muniz will finish at SAC this spring. He plans on transferring next fall and has his sights set on becoming an attorney.
Christian Cruz, a 21-year-old SAC student, is also thrilled with the new program. Cruz, who currently works as a brick specialist for The LEGO® Store, is really excited about the prospect of law school. In his first semester at SAC, Cruz is studying business law and knows that he wants to become a lawyer. “Getting into law school is really competitive,” he said. “The counseling aspect of this new initiative will make a big difference and help us get into some really excellent law schools.”
Community colleges selected for the program are Antelope Valley College, Bakersfield College, Chabot College, Chaffey College, College of Alameda, College of the Canyons, College of the Sequoias, Contra Costa College, Fresno City College, Gavilan College, Hartnell College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Mission College, Merritt College, Oxnard College, Rio Hondo Community College, Riverside City College, Sacramento City College, San Joaquin Delta College, San Jose City College, Santa Ana College, Solano Community College, Southwestern College, and Ventura College.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which will turn 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 10,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit www.sac.edu to learn more.
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