Intro: How to Find the Best Northern & Southern California Law Schools

With seemingly countless options of good law schools in California, it can seem like a daunting task to start searching for the one that is right for you. How do you find the best California law schools?

Maybe you are looking for southern California law schools or perhaps you would rather go with law schools in northern California. Maybe you are intent on finding California online law schools that provide flexibility in your education.

Or it could be that your #1 goal is simply to find the cheapest law schools in California.

cheapest law schools in california

Image Source: Good Law Schools

No matter your preferences, we know you are looking for updated information on good law schools in California. Let us help you out. This is a comprehensive guide on finding the best California law schools to help you achieve your dreams and goals.

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Finding the Best California Law Schools

There are multiple resources available for finding the best California law school. From active tools to respected resources, here are multiple methods you can use to start finding good law schools in California.


Startclass by Graphiq is a premium resource for finding good law schools in California. Smartclass ranks law schools, business schools, and medical schools. With a state-by-state filter function, you can see which are the best California law schools both quickly and easily.

Their handy green (top rank), yellow (mid rank), and red  (low rank) color-coding system shows you in one quick glance which schools are the best. You can simply click on multiple good law schools in California and then use their helpful comparison function to dive in more deeply.

Smartclass assigns each law school a Smart Rank number, comparing the school to all the other law schools in the United States. The best California law schools topping their list are Stanford and Berkeley School of Law. You can also see their acceptance rate percentage, median LSAT score, and median undergraduate GPA (UGPA).

You can then filter down your search even more to focus specifically on southern California law schools as well as law schools in northern California. You can also add search filters for:

  • Areas of concentration
  • Programs offered
  • Dual degrees
  • Institution type
  • Average salary

Accreditations and Approvals List

To truly choose one of the best California law schools, you will want to ensure that they are accredited. Though you can still technically take the bar exam in California if you have gone to an unaccredited law school, 9 out of 10 of these students end up dropping out anyway.

good law schools in california

California Law Schools

The safest bet is to find not only an accredited school, but also one that has been approved by reputable law organizations.

The State Bar of California offers a comprehensive list of accredited vs. unaccredited law schools in the state. They also show which good law schools in California have been approved by both the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Committee of Bar Examiners (CALS).

On this list you will find both law schools in northern California and southern California law schools.

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Once you have narrowed down your search of good law schools in California, you can compare four at a time with NerdWallet’s comparison function. Simply list the four schools you want to learn more about, and a side-by-side chart will pop up.

Through NerdWallet, you can see the following information on each school:

  • Graduating class size
  • Employment percentages
  • Law firm placement percentage
  • Government percentages
  • States where graduates find work
  • Average salaries

This helps you not only search for the best California law schools, but also the best for your needs.

U.S. News

This year, U.S. News published a piece showcasing what they believe will be the 20 best law schools in 2017. Of those, four happen to be good law schools in California.

They offer the following information for each school listed:

  • Full-time enrollment numbers
  • 2015-2016 tuition and fees
  • 2015 acceptance rate

Since they are offering current tuition averages, you can compare the four California law schools to help you find the cheapest law schools in California that are also considered some of the best.

Business Insider

Business Insider took it upon themselves to survey over three hundred legal professionals in the United States. They combined this survey’s results with more objective facts from sources such as the American Bar Association.

Business Insider then came up with a list of 50 top law schools in the United States. Of those 50, four of them are the best California law schools. Two of the four even made the top ten.

On this list you will find helpful information such as:

  • Results from their survey
  • Employment rates
  • Applicants accepted

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Finding The Cheapest Law Schools In California

Good law schools in California are not cheap. Even some “not-as-good” law schools in California are not cheap. Between high tution costs and Cali’s expensive cost of living, finding an inexpensive option is extremely difficult.

The average cost of law school tuition is $41,985, and California tuition is some of the highest in the country. Keep in mind that the Smartclass does have a rundown of the cheapest law schools in the United States. No California law schools are inexpensive enough to appear on the list.

That being said, some good law schools in California are cheaper than others. Here are a few ways to find the cheapest law schools in California.

Smartclass Cost Comparison

Smartclass is once again a helpful tool in the search for the best California law schools. This time we can use its detailed comparison tool to compare costs to find the cheapest law schools in California that are still considered to be great.

Simply checkmark all your potential options, and you will get a side-by-side breakdown of each school. Each breakdown will show you:

  • In-state tuition
  • Out-of-state tuition
  • Tuition guarantee programs
  • Historical full-time resident tuition
  • Percent receiving grants
  • Historical percentage of those receiving grants
  • Grant types
  • Median grants
  • Historical median grants

This is the most comprehensive way to compare full costs side-by-side with other southern California law schools and law schools in northern California.

Internet Legal Research Group

One great resource for comparing tuition costs to find the cheapest law schools in California is to visit the online resource, Internet Legal Research Group. On their website, they have about 200 law schools in the country along with average tuition prices and average room and board costs for each.

Simply click the highlighted “state” button to have the full list categorized by state. Scroll down to the California section, and you will find 20 good law schools in California mentioned.

You can then determine options with the lowest tuition as well as the lowest room and board.

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U.S. News

Sometimes reversing your research method in finding the cheapest law schools in California helps shed better light. U.S. News provided a breakdown of the priciest law schools. Unsurprisingly, many of these schools are from California.

U.S. News breaksdown:

  • In-state tuition
  • Out-of-state tuition
  • Room and board
  • Books
  • Miscellaneous expenses

You can do one of two things with this information. You can either cross each of these pricey law schools off your list, or you can set them up in comparsion to determine the least expensive option available.

California Cost of Living

The cost of going to good law schools in California does not only include tuition and book costs. Where you choose to live will greatly affect your cost of living. After all, you will need gas to get to class, a roof over your head, and all your daily meals while getting your law degree.

For example, many southern California law schools will probably have much higher cost of living than law schools in northern California.

CareerTrends by Graphiq breaks down the cost of living in the various cities and counties of California. Check where your top choices are located and then start researching the cost of living, which CareerTrends breaks down for you. It also shows you the average cost of monthy expenses in the area.

Finding California Online Law Schools

The natural flow of searching for the cheapest law schools in California will undoubtedly bring you to information on California online law schools. Without a doubt, these are some of the most inexpensive law programs in the state.

southern california law schools

Image Source: Online Law Schools

Online law schools are starting to pop up more and more. In most cases, they are a disastrous choice for those who want to practice since 49 of the 50 states will not let you take the bar exam if you have gone to an online law school. California online schools exist because California is the only state to allow them.

This mean choosing California online law schools could be an option for you. While these schools are not often considered to be the best law schools in California, they are viable options.

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Helpful Websites: California Online Law Schools

There are a handful of lists and resources that will help you decide which of the California online law schools is best. Here are a few to get your research started. Whatever you choose, make sure to first double check that each particular law school is allowed by the State Bar of California.

  • Above The Law: This is a list of the two best online law schools according to Above The Law. Both happen to be California online law schools.
  • Guide To Online Schools: This “Complete Guide To Online Law Schools” includes multiple California online law schools. It also shows annual tution and recommendation rates.
  • LinkedIn: This is a comprehensive overview of affordable law schools in the U.S., which includes one of the cheapest law schools in California. This is a great place to start for those looking to receive a good online law education without paying extraordinary fees. This list does include one of the California online law schools.

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How to Choose Your California Law School

Now you have a good idea of the best methods for searching for good law schools in California. All of these tools and resources may seem overwhelming at first, so try to make a list of desirable attributes you would like to find in your school (for example: wanting southern California law schools vs. law schools in northern California.)

You will also find it helpful to have some idea of budget, a realistic grasp on your LSAT scores or UGPA, and potential concentration ideas. These sorts of ideas will help you narrow down your search. Before you know it, you will have a short list of the best California law schools that will be perfect for your legal education.

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