Central Valley students will soon have a streamlined pathway to law school thanks to a new partnership between Fresno State, Fresno City College and San Joaquin College of Law. Together, the schools will form the regional 2+2+3 Pathway to Law School initiative, a statewide program to help diversify the legal profession.

Established under the sponsorship of the State Bar of California’s Council on Access and Fairness, the regional Pathway to Law School program will provide students with a clear transition from Fresno City College to Fresno State, and then to San Joaquin College of Law. Along the way students will earn an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and a Juris Doctorate.

Working closely with the schools will be the Regional Advisory Council, a group of lawyers and judges who will provide mentoring, internships, field trips, curriculum and classroom assistance. Chaired by Melissa L. White, former Fresno Bar Association president, this council is designed to support the success of the initiative from the legal professional perspective.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will celebrate the launch of the initiative by hosting a signing ceremony at 4:45 p.m., April 28 in the Henry Madden Library Table Mountain Reading Room on the Fresno State campus.

When the partnership launches, the Central Valley will join 28 California community colleges and six law schools, along with their respective four-year higher education institutions, that are participating in the initiative.

The State Bar’s primary objective is the recruitment of a more diverse student population into the legal profession. California’s racial and ethnic minorities make up 60 percent of the state’s population, while only 20 percent of the state’s lawyers are minorities. A new organization, California LAW (Leadership Access Workforce) will coordinate the participants, which include 16 high schools feeding into the participating colleges.

To qualify, students must attend Fresno City College and complete all required courses, including pre-law classes. Scholars will then transfer to Fresno State to earn a pre-law bachelor’s degree before attending San Joaquin College of Law to complete a law degree. Plans are underway to add a feeder high school law academy to complete the pipeline.

California LAW scholars will be given additional support, access and information about the law school admission process, including guidance and tutoring prior to taking the Law School Admissions Test.

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