California State Bar Law Office Study Program

Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by

There are multiple ways to become a lawyer in California. The most common method is to attend law school and earn a JD degree. However, there are other options available for people who want to practice law. This guide reveals to you all you need to know about California State Bar Law Office Study Program, law office study program losp, law office study program california requirements, california bar requirements for foreign lawyers and california state bar deadlines.

The California State Bar Law Office Study Program allows you to study law in an attorney’s office or with a judge in California. The program is designed for applicants who want legal experience before enrolling in law school. The program is great if you’re considering becoming a paralegal or legal assistant because it will give you exposure to the legal field without having to pay for tuition or take on student loans. Read on to know more about California State Bar Law Office Study Program, law office study program losp, law office study program california requirements, california bar requirements for foreign lawyers and california state bar deadlines.

There are three types of law office study programs:

1) Law Office Study Program: The applicant works in a California law office under the supervision of an attorney. The applicant may also assist the attorney during court proceedings.

2) Judicial Clerkship Program: The applicant works with a judge in California. This can include clerking for a superior court judge, appellate court judge, or federal district court judge.

3) Courtroom Assistance Program: The applicant assists attorneys during courtroom proceedings.

California State Bar Law Office Study Program

We begin with California State Bar Law Office Study Program, then law office study program losp, law office study program california requirements, california bar requirements for foreign lawyers and california state bar deadlines.

Do you have the necessary education to pursue a legal career? Find out more.

Legal Education

Most people go to law school before becoming an attorney, but it isn’t the only way to get a legal education. Applicants can also study in a law office or with a judge. Here are all the options:

  • Three or four years of study at a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Four years of study at a State Bar-registered, fixed-facility law school
  • Four years of study with a minimum of 864 hours of preparation at a registered unaccredited distance-learning or correspondence law school
  • Four years of study under the supervision of a state judge or attorney 
  • A combination of these programs

Law Schools

The ABA accredits 21 law schools in California. The State Bar of California accredits additional law schools in the state. But lawyers come from all types of law schools in California: accredited, unaccredited, fixed-facility and correspondence.

The type of schools applicants choose may affect credits they receive for legal study. Find out more about types of law schools.

Foreign Education

Applicants don’t have to be United States citizens to practice law in California.

But if applicants are educated or practiced law outside of the United States, they need to file paperwork that exempts them from having a Social Security number if they do not have one. Find out more about requirements for foreign applicants.

All applicants for admission to practice law who are eligible for a U.S. Social Security number are required to provide a U.S. Social Security number under Business and Professions Code sections 30 (California’s tax enforcement provisions) and 6060.6 Family Code section 17520 (Child Support Enforcement Program), unless they are eligible for an exemption. 

A Social Security number is only used for verifying your identity and making sure you are up-to-date on any court-ordered child and family support payments.

Applicants who were born in another country or do not otherwise qualify for a U.S. Social Security number, must request a U.S. Social Security number exemption during the online registration application process.

Applicants are not required to have a U.S. Social Security number to be admitted to practice law in California.

Registration applications and Social Security number exemption forms can also be obtained by contacting the Los Angeles Office of Admissions at 213-765-1500 or sending an email to [email protected].

Applying to the State Bar as a foreign-educated applicant

law office study program losp

Now we focus on law office study program losp, law office study program california requirements, california bar requirements for foreign lawyers and california state bar deadlines.

California’s Law Office Study Program

MICHAEL EHLINE joined the U.S. Marine Cops out of high school and has no college degree. After his military service, he started a construction business and ran a health club until he heard of the Law Office Study Program. Today, he has a personal injury practice specializing in cruise ship catastrophes and road vehicle mishaps.

“I began faxing, emailing, cold-calling attorneys to ask for sponsorship in exchange for work,” he recalls. He ended up studying with four sponsors in four years, each specializing in a different practice area: personal injury, criminal defense, litigation, and criminal prosecution. Ehline thinks these lawyers agreed to mentor him because they saw his tenacity and fed off his energy. “They’re all my dearest friends today, part of my extended family.”

But the going was rough; Ehline had a family to support in his last two years of LOSP. “Money was tight,” he recalls. “I was working at Home Depot for ten bucks an hour, on night shifts at times, living like a pauper for a while.” He took jobs as a law clerk and paralegal as well. He also began attending night classes at the University of West Los Angels Law School because he wanted “the law school experience after passing the baby bar.” He passed both the baby bar and the regular bar after two attempts, getting his law license in 2005 while still in his third year at UWLA.

“How cool was that?” Ehline says proudly. “I was the big man on campus, getting a law degree while already practicing as a lawyer.” He thinks he immediately got a lot of business after passing the bar because people respected his achievement. He advises taking tutorials in preparing for bar exams – he swears by Paul Pfau review courses – and capitalizing on knowledge acquired by working as a clerk or paralegal.

Meet Michael Ehline

California’s Law Office Study Program (LOSP) is grounded in State Bar rule 4.29 (www.rules.calbar.ca.gov). The requirements are uncomplicated, and the State Bar admissions office mainly serves as a registrar. The bar doesn’t supervise apprentices – that’s the task of their sponsors, who must be either a judge or an attorney and must have at least five years of good standing with the bar. The State Bar doesn’t even evaluate the curriculum that the sponsor and the student design. Sponsors may not claim MCLE credit for their mentoring. Here are the basics:

LOSP students must find a sponsor, pay a $40 fee and submit a Notice of intent to Study Law in a Law Office or Judge’s Chamber to the bar’s Office of Admissions.

Simply working for the sponsor won’t do. Law readers must actually follow a self-designed study course under the sponsor’s supervision for at least 18 hours a week, for four years over 48 consecutive weeks a year.

The sponsor must give a written examination once a month and submit a semiannual report to the bar, along with a $30 fee, and the questions and answers of the monthly test.

After the first year participants must pass the “baby bar,” or the California First Year Law Students’ Examination, give in June and October. Those who pass it within three attempts get credit for all study up to that point. If it takes more tries, they earn credit for only one year of study.

Students must pass the Multistate Professsional Responsibility Exam. It’s give three times a year and can be taken any time after the first year of study.

Four years of law office study qualifies participants to sit for the California Bar Examination, which is given in July and February.

This article is a reprint from the California Lawyer, June 2011 edition. Paul Pfau’s expertise to help people to successfully pass the bar exam includes those who have never gone to law school but qualified to take the exam through the much more rare law office program approach.

law office study program california requirements

Next, we discuss law office study program california requirements, california bar requirements for foreign lawyers and california state bar deadlines.

California Bar Examination

The California Bar Examination is the examination required for admission to the practice of law in the state of California. The exam is administered by the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBX) and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which is typically taken on the first day of testing, and essay questions, which are answered in a separate room after completion of the MBE.

In order to sit for the bar examination, you must have completed a J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school. You must also have completed your undergraduate studies at an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.50 from an accredited college or university; you will be required to complete 12 units (3 courses) in English composition and 6 units (2 courses) in mathematics during your last 60 semester/quarter units (10 quarters).

california bar requirements for foreign lawyers

The State Bar of California includes attorneys who have been educated abroad. They do not have to be citizens to be a licensed attorney in California, but they do have to fill out some extra paperwork.

If an applicant wants to practice law in California as a foreign-educated applicant not admitted to practice law in any United States jurisdiction, the information and forms are below.

These guidelines do not apply to attorneys who are already admitted to the active practice of law in a foreign country or in another U.S. jurisdiction and are in good standing. These attorneys are qualified to take the California Bar Examination without having to complete any additional legal education.

The requirements are different for those who have received a first degree in law from a law school in a foreign jurisdiction than those who may have completed study in a foreign law school, but did not receive a degree. For the specific requirements, refer to the admissions rules.

State Bar rules require applicants to:

Applicants for admission are also required to provide a Social Security number. If you don’t have a Social Security number, request the form to request an exemption when you register with the State Bar. 

Foreign law students with first degree of law

Law students who received their first degree in law from a law school outside the U.S. must establish their eligibility to take the California Bar Examination by showing that their degrees are equivalent to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree awarded by an American Bar Association (ABA)-approved or California-accredited law school in the U.S.

They must also show that they have successfully completed a year of law study at an ABA-approved law school or a law school accredited by the committee in the areas of law as outlined in the committee’s “Guidelines for Implementation of Chapter 2, Rule 4.30” of the admissions rules.

Law students in this category seeking to qualify to take the California Bar Examination must provide the following to the State Bar’s Office of Admissions in Los Angeles:

  1. A completed “Registration as a Foreign Educated General Applicant” form with the required registration fee of $119
     
  2. An evaluated law degree equivalency report and a “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form, which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee.  A detailed course by course evaluation report is required

Read more about the admissions guidelines for applicants who have a foreign law degree.

Foreign law students without a first degree of law

Law students who completed their legal education outside the United States without receiving a qualifying first degree in law must establish their eligibility to take the California Bar Examination by showing they have:

  1. successfully completed the equivalent of two years of undergraduate studies
  2. passed or established exemption from the First-Year Law Students’ Examination
  3. completed four years of legal studies in the United States

Law students who do not have a first degree of law who want to take the General Bar Examination must provide the following to the State Bar’s Office of Admissions in Los Angeles:

  1. A completed “Registration as a Foreign Educated General Applicant” form with the required registration fee of $119
     
  2. An evaluated course breakdown of all post-secondary education and a “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee. A detailed course by course evaluation report is required.

Documents in a language other than English must be accompanied by a notarized translation by a disinterested party, which is attested to with respect to accuracy.

Information provided by a credential evaluation agency regarding the completion of a law degree and number of years of study is considered advisory; the Committee reserves the right to make the final decision with regard to law study equivalency and how much credit the law student will receive toward qualifying to take the General Bar Examination. 

A determination of eligibility will be made after review of all required documents and applicants will thereafter be notified of their status regarding eligibility to take the California Bar Examination, exemption from the First-Year Law Students’ Examination or the requirement to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination, and whether any additional course work is required.  First-Year Law Students’ Examination exemption is established by passing the bar examination of another jurisdiction or successfully completing the first year of law study at an ABA approved or California accredited law school.

Read more about the admissions guidelines for foreign students without a law degree.

Registering as a foreign-educated applicant

General and attorney applicants who intend to seek admission to practice law in California must register in accordance with the Business and Professions Code, Article 4, section 6060(2)(d), and Title 4, Division 1 of the Rules of the State Bar of California (Admissions Rules). The registration form is not an application to take an examination.

Answer all applicable questions on the registration form. Answers must be specific and complete. If the space for an answer is insufficient, the answer may be completed on a separate sheet of paper, which should be attached to the registration form. Before filing the registration form, make sure all questions have been answered, the registration form is signed and the correct fee is included.

Any registration form not meeting these requirements is considered incomplete and will not be considered filed until it is brought to a complete status. If there are deficiencies in the registration form, you will be notified.


Registration forms not brought to a complete and filed status within 60 days of receipt will be deemed abandoned. No fees will be refunded if a registration is abandoned.

After completing and signing the registration form, the form and correct fees in the form of a cashier’s check or money order payable to the State Bar of California must be mailed to the following address:

The State Bar of California
Office of Admissions
845 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515

All applicants seeking admission to practice law must register with the Committee of Bar Examiners (committee) prior to filing any applications, petitions and requests for waivers or before any services can be provided. If an applicant has registered previously, there is no need to complete the registration form or pay the fee.

General Applicant Registration Fee: $119

Caution: Separate and distinct application forms are required for the bar examination and moral character determination. The “Application to Take the California Bar Examination” and/or “Application for Determination of Moral Character” will not be processed prior to completion of the registration form.

All correspondence from the committee and the State Bar’s Office of Admissions will be mailed to the current mailing address (initially as shown on the registration form). It is the applicant’s responsibility to notify the State Bar’s Office of Admissions in writing, of any changes in name, address or law school. If notification of such changes is not received by the State Bar’s Office of Admissions, it may result in the applicant’s failure to receive important information. 

It is the applicant’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the Admissions Rules. Copies of amendments to the Admissions Rules are not routinely sent to registrants. The current Admissions Rules are available online at www.calbar.ca.gov/admissions or upon request from the Office of Admissions.

Equivalency report

You must attach an evaluated law degree equivalency report and a “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary,” which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee and a certified transcript of all legal studies completed, which must include the beginning and ending dates of enrollment, each class taken, the grade or mark received for each class and the date the degree was awarded.

General information to assist in completing the registration form follows:

Question #1.1 – United States Social Security Number

All applicants for admission to practice law in California are required to provide a Social Security number pursuant to Business and Professions Code Sections 30 (State of California’s tax enforcement provisions,) 6060.6 (alternative identification acceptable in lieu of social security number,) and Family Code section 17520 (Child Support Enforcement Programs.)

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Applicants without a social security number because they do not qualify for one, may request that they be exempted from the requirement of providing one at the time they register as a law student or as an attorney. Such applicants may request an exemption from the social security number requirement by completing page 4 of the Registration as a Foreign-Educated General Applicant Not Admitted to the Practice of Law in any United States or Foreign Jurisdictions’ application and attaching the requested documentation.

Question #2.0 – Names, former names and aliases
If an applicant’s name has been changed by court order, a photocopy of such order should be attached. This includes divorce decrees or dissolution papers.

Question #2.2 – Foreign Legal Education
All foreign law study completed or currently in progress should be indicated, even though there is no intention to claim credit. An evaluated law degree equivalency report, which must be completed by a credential evaluation agency approved by the Committee, a completed “Foreign Law Study Evaluation Summary” form and a certified transcript of all legal studies completed, with a notarized translation if in a language other than English, must be attached to the application form.

Question #2.3 – United States Law School Education
List the law school you are attending in the United States, and any other United States law school where study was previously completed, and indicate whether you intend to receive credit for law study obtained at the school toward qualifying to take the California Bar Examination. If you are intending to qualify to take the examination as an foreign educated applicant with a first degree in law through an additional year of law study at an ABA approved or California accredited law school, in addition to listing the law school, indicate the degree program in which you are enrolled, the courses in which you are enrolled and the date you intend to complete the program. Refer to the Committee’s “Guidelines for Implementation of Chapter 2, Rule 4.30 of the Admissions Rules”  of the admissions rules for the specific courses that must be completed in order to qualify to take the California Bar Examination.

Withdrawal / Abandonment / Ineligible
Registration forms may not be withdrawn. Registration fees that accompanied forms that are abandoned because they are incomplete will not be refunded. Applicants for registration found to be ineligible due to a lack of pre-legal education will qualify for a refund.

Registration Number
A file number will be assigned to you. The file number is the permanent identification number and must be indicated on all subsequently filed applications and on all correspondence. Registration confirmation letters will be mailed approximately four (4) weeks from the date of approval of the registration.

Communicating with the Committee of Bar Examiners or Office of Admissions
An official record of all communications is required. Applicants with inquiries should contact the Office of Admissions by sending an email directly through the Applicant Portal. Inquiries in writing or by telephone should be directed to the appropriate office listed below.

Office of Admissions                                    Office of Admissions
The State Bar of California                          The State Bar of California
845 S. Figueroa Street                                 180 Howard Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515                      San Francisco, CA 94105-1617
(213)-765-1500                                             (415)-538-2300

california state bar deadlines

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In California, aspiring attorneys can get their law degrees without going through a formal program.

The California State Bar Law Office Study Program allows students to work with an attorney in an office and take required courses at a nearby community college or university.

There are other options for earning a degree as well: law apprenticeship programs in California offer students the opportunity to learn from judges and attorneys while they work on real cases.

Law school isn’t for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to get your legal education without enrolling in one of the state’s top schools.

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