BAKERSFIELD, California – The Monterey College of Law, in conjunction with the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners and the Board of Trustees, have approved the opening of an accredited branch of the Monterey College of Law. Kern County College of Law, scheduled to open next summer, will be located in Bakersfield.
"Kern County College of Law will not be a typical law school,” Monterey College of Law President and Dean Mitchel L. Winick told the Northern California Record. “As a part-time evening program, the school serves both traditional college students and non-traditional working adults. The program offers small classes taught by respected local lawyers and judges who bring their valuable practical skills and experience directly into the law school classroom. The evening program allows students to continue to work while they attend law school, eliminating the need for financially crippling student debt that is the current norm for most traditional large law schools."
Monterey College of Law montereylaw.edu
The founders of Monterey College of Law (MCL) saw a need to provide a quality legal education for people who didn’t have the means to quit their jobs or uproot their families to a major metropolitan area where traditional law schools are located.
In 2015, the school expanded by opening an accredited branch of MCL in San Luis Obispo. The program saw rapid growth, which Wendy LaRiviere, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Placement at San Luis Obispo College of Law, attributes to the need for better access to accredited law school programs in a region with an existing higher education community.
“The timing of this move reflects recent changes by the State Bar of California that allows law schools like Monterey College of Law to open accredited branches as long as they meet the same educational quality standards as the main campus,” LaRiviere told the Northern California Record. “It also reflects the success that MCL has had in opening San Luis Obispo College of Law as an accredited branch in July 2015.”
The Kern County School of Law, like San Luis Obispo College of Law, will operate as a nonprofit, fully accredited branch of MCL. A board of trustees comprised of local lawyers, judges and community leaders will oversee the governing of the college.
Another distinction for the Kern County College of Law is that potential students interested in furthering their legal education but do not currently have a bachelor’s degree may still attend the college. Under California law, a unique authorization is given to California-accredited law schools to accept applications from students who have completed a minimum of 60 units of academic undergraduate credit.
“The majority of our applicants have a bachelor's degree,” LaRiviere said. “However, there are special students who have the right combination of maturity, academic ability, study skills, and work experience that indicates that they have what it takes to be successful in law school without completing an undergraduate degree. In these special cases, we are pleased to admit them to our law school program.”
LaRiviere confirms that in recent years, several students who fall into that particular category have finished at the top of their law school class and passed the California Bar Exam.
Since the announcement about the branch campus was announced last month, the Office of Admissions has received several inquiries from prospective students.