Answer from an off-line question:
There are a number of key differences between the ABA approved law schools and California accredited law schools (CALS). It is important to realize that California is the only state that has state-accredited law schools, as well as ABA approved law schools. It is not a recent phenomena, San Francisco Law School, one of the CALS, is over 100 years old . . . older than any of the ABA law schools in California. Our law school, Monterey College of Law was founded in 1972 and is in our 43rd year of operation.
Key differences include:
Graduates of CALS must first take and pass the California bar exam prior to being eligible to take any other state bar exam. In contrast, graduates of ABA law schools are eligible to take any state's bar exam upon obtaining their J.D. This means that if you intend to live and practice in California, there is no difference regarding licensure, but if you intend to move at some point to another jurisdiction, you should first review the National Conference of Bar Examiner's guide to admissions (http://www.ncbex.org/assets/media_files/Comp-Guide/CompGuide.pdf
). This guide will tell you what the rules are regarding reciprocity between states and whether a specific state will allow CALS graduates to sit for their bar exam.
CALS are smaller and much less expensive than ABA law schools. Most CALS have between 100 and 250 students and cost between one-third and one-half as much as the traditional ABA law schools.
CALS faculty members are primarily adjunct professors who are practicing lawyers and judges, not full-time law professors.
CALS offer evening law school courses to accommodate working students and also encourage employment in law-related jobs during law school.
CALS commonly serve specific regional markets such as Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Fresno, Santa Rosa, Concord, and Chico where there are no ABA law schools. The exceptions are the large urban markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Jose where they provide an alternative to large traditional ABA law schools.
CALS graduates primarily (almost
exclusively) go into non-BigLaw
jobs. This is particularly true for schools located in non-urban communities where there is no such thing as BigLaw. Our programs are ideally suited for those interested in public sector lawyer jobs, such as DA, public defender, county and municipal attorneys, and small-firm practitioners. Although it may not be true in the big cities, these jobs continue to exist for new graduates in small communities such as our's. Since our graduates make up between 25-30% of the local bar, they are found in every flavor of civil and criminal private practice.
I have posted previously about bar pass rates and employment statistics, but if you have additional questions let me know.