A correspondence law school or distance learning law school is a school that offers legal education either by correspondence, using the internet, or a combination of the two.
The requirements for admission to practice law in California are contained in the Rules of the State Bar of California, Title 4, Division 1 (Admissions Rules), which are available online. The following is a summary of the requirements for students qualifying for admission to practice law in California through correspondence or distance-learning law study. For the specific requirements for such study, refer to Chapter 3, Rule 4.28 of the Admissions Rules.
To be admitted to practice law in California, an applicant must comply with the requirements outlined in the Admissions Rules, which include: 1) obtaining the required pre-legal education before beginning the study of law; 2) registration as a law student; 3) passing the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX), unless exempt from taking the examination; 4) completing the requisite legal education 5) receiving a positive moral character determination; 6) passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination; and, 7) passing the California Bar Examination. Additionally, an applicant must not be certified by the State Department of Child Support Services as being in non-compliance with a court ordered child or family support obligation. There is no requirement of citizenship or residency.
Applicants may qualify to take the California Bar Examination by studying law at an unaccredited correspondence or distance-learning law school that is registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners (Committee). Refer to the Unaccredited Law School Rules and the Guidelines for Unaccredited Law School Rules for the requirements that unaccredited correspondence or distance-learning law schools must meet to qualify for registration with the Committee.
Satisfactory completion of a course of study requiring a minimum of 864 hours of preparation and study a year for four (4) years is required. The year of preparation and study must occur in not less than forty-eight (48) or more than fifty-two (52) consecutive weeks. To receive credit, a student studying by correspondence or distance learning may not begin a subsequent year of study prior to completion of one year of study as defined by the Admissions Rules. Credit will not be allowed for law study that does not comply with the requirements of the Admissions Rules.
In accordance with Chapter 2, Rule 4.16 of the Admissions Rules, all applicants seeking admission to practice law must register with the Committee prior to filing any applications or before any services can be provided. Registration is only available online.
Students studying law at unaccredited correspondence or distance-learning law schools are subject to the FYLSX. An applicant who is required to pass the FYLSX will not receive credit for any law study until the applicant passes the examination. An applicant who passes the examination within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take the examination, will receive credit for all law study completed to the date of the administration of the examination passed, subject to any restrictions otherwise covered by the Admissions Rules. An applicant who does not pass the examination within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take the examination but who subsequently passes the examination will receive credit for his or her first year of law study only.
A list of correspondence and distance-learning law schools currently registered with the Committee are available on the State Bar’s website. The examination statistics for registered unaccredited law schools are also available on the website.