Why would anyone want to attend law school anywhere else? OK, I admit that I am biased. After all, I am in my tenth year as dean and am known as an outspoken and unapologetic advocate of Monterey College of Law and our new branch, San Luis Obispo College of Law. So with that disclaimer out of the way, I urge you to consider what we have to offer and judge for yourself.
First, let’s talk about location. The Central Coast of California is recognized throughout the world for the world-class surfing of Santa Cruz, the storybook cottages of Carmel-By-The-Sea, the famous Pebble Beach golf links, the picturesque 17-Mile Drive, the towering redwoods of Big Sur, the awe-inspiring coastal drive along Highway 1, and the spectacular sunsets of Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. If you have to go to law school somewhere . . . why not live in a region that people from all over the world come to visit for vacation?
Of course, selecting a law school isn’t really about geography. On a more serious note, let’s focus on curriculum, skills programs, academic support, and clinical experience. Our programs emphasize practical skills and require that all law students participate in clinical programs. We sponsor clinical workshops where students meet with clients under the supervision of law faculty. We require that graduates be certified as mediators as part of the J.D. curriculum and provide a number of programs in which students can participate in community mediation programs. In addition, the law school has internship programs with offices such as the District Attorney, Public Defender, County Counsel, Superior Court, Legal Services for Seniors, and many other public and private law offices.
Over the past several years, the law school has added practical skills training into our regular bar-tested subjects. This is what law students and employers have been requesting for years and we are an early adopter of these changes. The law school has also expanded our legal writing program, increased our academic support resources and become more pro-active in intervening with students who are struggling academically. We are not a program that measures success by restrictive admission policies and high attrition rates. As an “opportunity” law school, we consider each applicant on the merit of their individual potential without applying rigid barriers based on LSAT or GPA. We are also proud of the fact that as a result of our comprehensive academic support program, attrition rates have dropped and our bar pass rates have increased . . . an unheard of combination in most law schools.
The cost of attending law school is also an important factor in your decision-making process. If you begin with the assumption that you plan to take the California Bar Exam and practice law in California, at a California-accredited law schools like Monterey College of Law and San Luis Obispo College of Law, you can obtain a first-class legal education, with small classes, and excellent faculty for a fraction of the cost of a traditional three-year ABA law school. The rising cost of legal education is a barrier to many segments of the population . . . and that should be a significant concern for all of us. By burdening recent law graduates with immense debt, traditional ABA law schools are effectively eliminating the opportunity for graduates to fill the growing demand for public service lawyers in our communities. I am proud that the affordability of our program is one of the factors that provide many of our graduates the opportunity to use their law degree to help the under-represented members of our community through private practice, non-profit organizations, city and county legal departments, and legal aid clinics. To support this effort, our Monterey campus is also among the first law schools in California to launch an incubator program for new graduates that also supports a modest-means legal services program.
Another important benefit of our evening law school program is that our faculty members are all practicing lawyers and judges. The law school’s faculty represents virtually all aspects of the political, social, business, and legal spectrum in the quad-county area that includes Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and San Luis Obispo Counties. In addition to bringing their expertise into the classroom, as practicing lawyers and judges, the faculty provides students with a valuable link to the local legal community . . . and yes, I am talking about jobs.
Although I have previous teaching and administrative experience at several ABA law schools, I believe that I may have the best law school dean job in America. I live in one of the world’s most beautiful areas . . . I have the privilege to serve a well-respected state accredited program that is in the vanguard of changing legal education . . . and I get to work in a collegial environment with a highly capable and enthusiastic group of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, and students.
I encourage you to check out Monterey College of Law and San Luis Obispo College of Law. If what we offer fits your personal needs and professional objectives, why would you go to law school anywhere else?