The legal profession in America, and specifically in California, fails to reflect the state’s diversity in all areas of the population. It is our belief that this lack of diversity negatively impacts the administration of justice and the principle of “equal access under the law.” Lawyers who do not reflect the people they serve in gender, ethnicity, race, LGBTQ, disability and age lowers public trust and confidence in the courts and justice system, endangers fairness, and opens doors to bias (both implicit and explicit). It is our responsibility and opportunity as members of the legal profession to build a profession that looks like California to ensure a justice system where all are equal under the law.
California Leadership-Access-Workforce (Cal LAW) was established in 2015 under the leadership of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness (COAF) and with support from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) to provide a clear educational pipeline for diverse students from high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions into law schools or law-related careers. In support of this goal, Cal LAW provides the foundational structure that connects, communicates, collaborates, and coordinates the programs essential to the educational pipeline for the students we serve.
Member schools of Cal LAW include 21 high school law academies created under the California Partnership Academy model in a unique partnership between the State Bar of California and the California Department of Education (CDE). Started in 2011, law academies provide a 3-year curriculum starting in 10th grade with a focus on law and/or law-related careers and supported by the local legal community through advisory councils, mentoring, internships, classroom presentations, field trips, and other law-related activities. Additionally, it includes the Community College Pathway to Law School (formerly the 2+2+3) initiative with 29 California community colleges, 9 undergraduate universities, and their law schools, resulting in an educational pipeline into the legal profession.