There is increasing concern that the escalating cost of traditional legal education is playing a major role in widening the “justice gap” in many communities. This “gap” is created, in part, because new graduates complete traditional ABA law schools with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt. They simply cannot afford to practice law in small communities, public sector law jobs, or non-profit legal service agencies. The problem is made worse by large urban law firms that have responded to the escalating cost of legal education by increasing starting associate salaries beyond a point that can be supported by reasonable hourly billing rates. The result is that there is a growing segment of our population that cannot afford legal representation. To make matters worse, there are small communities throughout California that have no lawyers actively practicing in their area. These communities and their citizens also fall into the widening justice gap. We believe that small, community-based legal education programs such as Monterey College of Law and San Luis Obispo College of Law are an important part of the solution to this problem. The majority of our law students come from our local communities and remain to practice after they graduate and pass the bar exam.

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