Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina
Are you considering studying at northwestern california university school of law ? Do you want to discover all there is to know about it? Read this article to find out.
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Northwestern California University has been in existence as a distance law school for over 39 years. It is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Prior to 2020, distance education law schools were prohibited from becoming accredited, and were operated as “registered schools.” When the State Bar modified its rules to allow distance schools to seek accreditation, NWCU immediately began the accreditation process.
Northwestern California University School of Law Overview
The Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California granted Northwestern California University full accreditation on August 21, 2020.
California Accredited Law School Required Disclosure
Study at, or graduation from, this law school may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or be admitted to practice law in jurisdictions other than California. A student who intends to seek admission to practice law outside of California should contact the admitting authority in that jurisdiction for information regarding its education and admission requirements.
For information regarding other states, click here: Practicing Law in Other States
For information regarding the pass rates of Northwestern California University graduates on the ten most recent administrations of the California Bar Examination, click here: Bar Exam Statistics
And, for the California Business and Professions Code Section 6061.7 Disclosure, click here: Information Report for Reporting Year 2020
Northwestern California University School of Law is an online correspondence based distance education institution founded in 1982.
- Sacramento, California, United States
Number of Founders (Alumni) 1
- Headquarters Regions West Coast, Western US
- Founded Date 1982
- Operating Status Active
- Phone Number (916) 920-9470
Northwestern California University School of Law (NWCULaw®) was founded 32 years ago. It began as an external degree granting law school and is now the oldest continuously operating degree-granting online law school in the country offering online correspondence-based distance education. Its programs were developed so that economic obstacles, family
commitments, remoteness of location, and other hardships would not prevent deserving individuals from studying law.
The School currently has approximately 700 enrolled students, and over the last thirty-one years of the School’s history, a large number of its graduates have gone on to successfully practice law. Graduates of the school have transitioned to jobs as private practice lawyers and litigators, deputy public defenders, deputy district attorneys, administrative court judge, and staff attorneys working for private corporations, organizations and governmental agencies.
NWCULaw has a proven record of success for online law schools and distance learning, and was the first such school to offer Internet based instruction to its students by means of videoconferencing technology. It offers entirely online correspondence programs leading to the presentation of the Bachelor of Science in Law (B.S.L.) and Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees. Students who successfully complete two years of the four-year law study program are eligible for conferment of the B.S.L. degree. Those who continue on to successfully complete the entire program are eligible for conferment of the J.D. degree.
The School’s high quality, very affordable online programs are offered over the Internet through a course management system and technology platform featuring Online Discussion Boards, Online Audio/Video Lectures and a Virtual Classroom to provide dynamic collaboration and communication between students and faculty members.
The faculty consists of law professors who are available to all students for course-specific questions, discussions and reviews via the School’s Online Discussion Boards and through Cyber-Mail. Students have access to an electronic law library, through LexisNexis™, and can network with the professors and each other, and participate in online “real-time” chats, through the online law school’s Internet campus. The School’s faculty members conduct instructional sessions with students over the Internet by means of online Text Chat and modern interactive Videoconferencing technology.
The law study program at Northwestern California University is environmentally progressive at a time when being GREEN is increasingly important. The innovative eco-friendly feature of the NWCULaw program is that the School’s faculty members and students do not travel to meet with one another. Instead they meet “virtually” on their computers at specified times for discussions of study materials, to see and hear pre-recorded lectures, and to download coursework. The savings in energy and facility resources that result are good for the School, its students and the environment.
Northwestern California University School Of Law
Is Northwestern a good law school?
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Rankings
Northwestern Law is well-known among the top law schools in the U.S. It ranked no.9 in the latest U.S. News & World’s Best Law School report. It also topped several specialty rankings, particularly those for the best programs on tax laws
Is Northwestern California Law School ABA accredited?
It is accredited by the State Bar of California. Graduates of the school are eligible to practice law in California if they successfully take and pass the California Bar Examination. The school is not American Bar Association (ABA) approved.
Is California law school accredited?
As the State Bar of California has granted full accreditation to three online law schools, two other online schools, the California School of Law and the California Desert Trial Academy have completed applications for state accreditation, while several schools with state accreditation have added flex programs that may further attract students
Degree Program: Juris Doctor
Title Of Degree: Juris Doctor
The Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree is a graduate, professional doctorate degree that is conferred upon those who complete the school’s J.D. program.
The Juris Doctor Degree will be granted to individuals who have successfully completed all required terms of the law study program. It is the student’s responsibility to be sure that Bar eligibility requirements are followed.
Each term of the law study program must be completed within a period of 12 months. A typical term will include courses totaling 20 credits and will require a minimum of 300 hours of verified academic engagement and 600 hours of further study and preparation. Over the course of four terms, students must complete a minimum of 1200 hours of verified academic engagement and 2400 hours of further study and preparation.
Students seeking the Juris Doctor Degree must have completed 60 or more acceptable college semester units, or must as an alternative have adequate scores on three, or in some situations five, selected and specific College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) tests approved by the California Committee of Bar Examiners.
Students listen to recorded lectures. Additionally, written material is studied for each course. The written material is comprised of online school guidebooks, commercially prepared course outlines and, for most courses, casebooks.
Students are exposed to most of what they would have been exposed to by attending classes at a traditional law school, i.e. lectures given by law school professors, cases that they read and brief, and examinations given in traditional format.
The students are encouraged to supplement the prescribed instruction with other study materials traditionally used by law students and usually purchased ‘off campus.’ These supplemental materials include hornbooks, flow charts, flash cards, etc.
Students in this school’s law study program, just like students at traditional law schools, are required to listen to the course lectures, prepare case briefs, read prescribed written materials and take mid-term and final examinations. Additionally, for first-year students, an open book quiz must be completed prior to the taking of midterms in each of the following first-year courses: Contracts, Torts and Criminal Law.
Mid-term examinations are done by the students in open book fashion and must be sent to the school by the students for grading by one of the school’s faculty members. A mid-term grade constitutes one-third of the student’s ultimate grade for a course.
Final exams are closed-book, timed, and proctored using Examity® online proctoring. The final exam grade constitutes the remaining two-thirds of the student’s final grade.
The test questions for the midterms and finals are styled after those given to law students at most traditional law schools and are similar in complexity.
See the list of courses for the Law Study Program in the Course Description section of the catalog.
Students may apply for admission at any time. NWCU operates on a rolling enrollment system so that students start the law study program every month. Students have one year from the date they start each year of studies to complete it.
There is a non-refundable $25 application fee which may be paid online when the application is submitted.
In accordance with the California Business and Professions Code and the regulations of the State Bar of California, students must meet one of the following pre-legal education requirements for admission to law school:
1. Bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally accredited or state-approved college or university;
2. Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree from a U.S. regionally-accredited or state-approved college or university;
3. At least 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits applicable toward a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. regionally-accredited or state-approved college or university;
4. Evaluation of a foreign degree by an evaluation service approved by the State Bar of California which shows the degree is equivalent to options 1-3 above; or
5. Passing score on the College Composition CLEP exam, plus passing scores on:
(a) two additional CLEP exams each of which is recommended for at least 6 credits; or
(b) four additional CLEP exams each of which is recommended for at least 3 units; or
(c) three additional CLEP exams, one of which is of which is recommended for at least 6 units and two of which are recommended for at least 3 units.
Applied Associate Degrees
Unlike the Associate of Arts degree and the Associate of Science degree, the Associate in Applied Arts degree and the Associate in Applied Science degree are considered vocational degrees and do not satisfy the California Bar’s eligibility requirements.
Master’s or Doctoral Degrees
Individuals with Master’s or Doctoral degrees who do not also have a Bachelor’s, Associate of Arts, or Associate of Science degree, or 60 or more transferable semester college credits (90 or more quarter college credits) do not meet the California Bar’s eligibility requirements.
The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) is administered by The College Board, www.collegeboard.com. A passing score on CLEP exams is 50 or higher. One of the exams must be the English Composition exam (but not the modular exam). The additional two to four exams may be for any of the following subjects: Composition and Literature (Humanities examination only), Foreign Language, History and Social Science, Science and Mathematics, and Business.
Official Records of Education Requirements
Official transcripts, foreign degree evaluations, CLEP score reports, and TOEFL or IELTS reports need not be submitted with an application. Admission decisions can usually be made on the basis of the applicant’s declaration regarding these. Applicable official records will be required, however, within 45 days of enrollment.
Residency and Housing
Northwestern California University does not have or require on-campus residence or physical classroom instruction. Students from anywhere in the world can apply and participate in the law study program on the internet.
Northwestern California University is an online distance learning school. Its program is offered entirely on the internet. Accordingly, it does not provide dormitory facilities or housing for students.
No Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores are required for entry to the school.
Students who have completed coursework or graduated from institutions outside of the United States are required to have their transcripts evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation service approved by the California Committee of Bar Examiners. A list of approved evaluation services is available at: http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/admissions/Education/Credential_Eval_Serv.pdf.
English Language Requirement
All coursework at Northwestern California University is provided and completed in the English language. The school does not provide ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction. It is, therefore, essential that all enrolling students have a high level of comprehension and ability in oral and written expression in the English language.
International applicants who are non-native speakers of English must demonstrate English proficiency by one of the following:
1. Completion of at least two years of study at a college or university where the language of instruction was English,
2. Submitting a passing score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or
3. Submitting a pasing score on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
A passing score on the TOEFL is at least 550 points (paper-based test), 213 points (computer-based test) or 79 (internet-based test). A passing score on the IELTS is 6 or higher for the overall band. There is no preference for one test over the other.
Northwestern California University welcomes applications from transfer students. Applicants who have previously attended law school and who are accepted for admission will be required to provide official transcripts from all prior law schools.
Transfer credit is awarded at the discretion of the dean, however, NWCU typically awards transfer credit for courses completed at U.S. law schools which are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) or are accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners (CBE) of the State Bar of California, provided that the credits to be transferred are appropriate to the law degree program at NWCU.
In accordance with California law and the rules of the State Bar of California, NWCU may grant transfer credit for units earned in unaccredited programs registered with the State Bar of California to students who have passed the California First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX) during the first three administrations after becoming eligible to take the examination, for all courses taken prior to passing. Those who do not pass the examination within the first three administrations of the examination upon first becoming eligible to take it, but who subsequently pass the examination, can receive credit for one year of law study only. Transferability of credits is determined on an individual basis.
As part of the application process, NWCU may require an evaluation of prior law studies by the State Bar of California. Additionally, a proposed plan of study may be required to verify eligibility for California bar admission after completion of the law study program.
It is important to note that, in accordance with California State Bar guidelines, the school requires that the course of study for the J.D. degree be completed no later than eighty-four months after a student has commenced law study at the law school or a law school from which the law school has accepted transfer credit.
Award of Credit for Experiential Learning
Northwestern California University does not award credits for prior experiential learning, which is the process of making meaning from direct experience.
Northwestern California University School of Law Tuition
|Program||App. Fee||Tuition||Material||Reg. Fee|
|Law Study – J.D.||$25||$3,900 *1 ($325 a month)||$825 – $1,325 *2||$100|
*1 Cost per year
*2 Estimated cost per year for textbooks/materials
NOTE: All fees quoted are in U.S. dollars and subject to increase as necessary.Our Motto: “Quality, Opportunity, Affordability”
|Monthly Tuition Payment if Paid on the Installment Plan||Annual Tuition||Tuition for the Entire Juris Doctorate Degree Program|
Keep it Low and Locked – Apply Now
Tuition this low with a “locked-in” provision may be discontinued at any time and not offered again in the future. However, for those who submit an application now and complete the enrollment process within 30 days from the date of the application’s approval, the tuition rate will be “locked-in” at the current rate on the date of enrollment, and will continue at that rate for the entire length of the program, until degree completion, if completed on schedule.
Click here: To Apply Now For Enrollment at $3,900
To be sure that your tuition is this low and “locked-in” you must submit an application now and complete the enrollment process within 30 days from the date of enrollment approval.
The school offers a payment plan in which students pay their annual tuition fee in twelve equal monthly installments. There is a $100 payment plan administrative fee.
Northwestern California University does not participate in federal or state financial aid programs, or any other loan programs.
The student shall be refunded all tuition paid by the student upon written application for cancellation of an enrollment agreement delivered to the school either in person or by mail within seven (7) days after student is first given access to the online course site and material.
A later cancellation by a student who has been enrolled for 60 percent or less of a year shall result in a pro-rated refund of tuition based upon the length of time that the student has been enrolled. The enrollment period is counted from the date of initial enrollment to the date of withdrawal.
Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree Program
Term I — First Year
- Introduction to Law, Legal Analysis, and Legal Research (4 units)
Introduction to the basic concepts of law and legal analysis, and the history of the American system of jurisprudence and juristic theory that originated from, and was developed and formulated through, the common law of England, and is now recognized as an organic part of the jurisprudence of most of the United States.
- Contracts (6 units)
A study of the promissory agreements that exist between two or more persons or entities and that create, modify, or terminate legal relationships. The different classifications of such agreements and the requisite elements of each will be distinguished.
- Criminal Law (4 units)
A study of key aspects of criminal law including how the criminal process works; common law origins of criminal law and statutory modifications; an introductory overview of basic criminal procedure to enable understanding of criminal law; the fundamental bases of substantive criminal law, including definitions of criminal conduct, principles and scope of criminal liability and defenses to liability; classification of crimes; and elements of major crimes.
- Torts (6 units)
An analysis of the historical development and purposes of tort law, and analysis of the major categories of torts: intentional, negligent, and strict liability. Tort injuries are covered from causation through remedy for cases involving injuries to person, including physical and emotional harm and harm to reputation, and injuries to property, including both real and personal property. Discussion is included for specific topics such as defamation of character, invasion of privacy, misrepresentation, products liability, and modern torts such as wrongful death.
Term II — Second Year
- Business Associations (6 units)
A study of the various structures for businesses. Agency law is covered, including creation of an agency, the master and servant relationship, and the authority and duties of both agent and principal, including the fiduciary responsibilities. Partnerships, from creation through winding up, and the rights, duties, and liabilities of partners are also covered. Finally, formation and types of corporations are covered, as well as the rights and duties of directors, shareholders and corporate officers. Attention is given to court made legal principles and to the rapidly expanding impact of federal regulation of corporations and securities.
- Criminal Procedure (4 units)
A course that covers the legal methods for apprehending persons accused of committing criminal acts. The rights of those accused of crimes are covered, along with methods of protecting those rights and remedies for violations. The criminal process from commission of a crime and apprehension through the various phases of adjudication are also covered.
- Real Property (6 units)
A study of the body of law relating to land and improvements thereon; as distinguished from movable personal property. The English Common Law as it relates to real property will be emphasized.
- Remedies (4 units)
A study of the remedies available for tort and contract matters, including both legal and equitable remedies. Specific legal remedies for various injuries and contract breaches and computation of damages is included. Additionally, analysis of equitable remedies will equip the student to understand the phases and requirements for the imposition of injunctions.
Term III — Third Year
- Civil Procedure (6 units)
A survey of the civil process that covers each step from initial complaint through appeals. Personal and subject matter jurisdiction are thoroughly covered, and venue and transfer rules are presented. The Erie Doctrine, its development, and its applicability in modern civil actions is covered. Also addressed are the handling of multiple claims and parties, including class actions. Finally, procedural trial issues such as discovery methods, trial process, appellate review and its limitations, and the effects of the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel are covered.
- Constitutional Law (6 units)
A study of a wide range of topics drawn from the United States Constitution, beginning with the powers of the various branches of government and the concept of separation of powers. Authority to hear cases, including the Case and Controversy Doctrine are presented, as is the division of powers between the federal government and the states. The power of the government to regulate economic and personal interests is thoroughly covered, including the levels of protection from interference with personal interests, equal protection, and due process. Finally, due process and procedure, the concept of state action, and the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion are thoroughly covered.
- Evidence (4 units)
A study of the importance of getting evidence admitted and on the trial record, and the process by which this is accomplished. First, the requirements related to relevance are introduced, then the reasons why relevant evidence may be excluded, including a thorough presentation of the hearsay rules and exceptions. Special evidentiary rules such as confidentiality of certain communications and privileges are explained. Both testamentary and documentary evidence are covered, including admissibility requirements for both.
- Professional Responsibility (Ethics) (4 units)
A study of the role and duties of a lawyer, including the duty to the court, to the client, and to society. Regulation of attorneys’ conduct and disciplinary action are covered, including the varying requirements of the Model Rules and Model Code. Both aspirational goals of conduct and disciplinary rules are presented. The rules and practical application of the duty of confidentiality, potential and actual conflicts of interest, advertising and solicitation, and other key aspects of ethical obligations will be covered. Additionally, judicial ethics will be addressed.
Term IV — Fourth Year
- Administrative Law (5 units)
A study of the history and creation of administrative agencies, generally via legislative action. Control of administrative agencies is considered, with attention to the competing interests and powers of the executive and legislative governmental branches, as well as to the monitoring and direction by the judicial branch. Formal and informal administrative actions are studied, focusing on rulemaking and administrative adjudication. Finally, investigation and discovery of administrative agency action and challenges to such actions are covered.
- Community Property (3 units)
An overview of the ways ownership of property by married persons is classified, followed by consideration of how the various classifications affect the disposition of property both upon dissolution and death. Presumptions related to classification of property are covered, as are exceptions to those presumptions. Finally, selected provisions of the California codes related to community property are reviewed.
- Practical Skills Elective (6 units)
Fourth year students take one of the following four elective courses: Legal Document Drafting, Legal Practice, Professional Skills, or Trial and Appellate Advocacy.
- Wills, Trusts, and Estates (6 units)
This course is a study of the laws related to succession of property upon death of the owner. Various means of passing property to those designated by the property owner are covered, including gifts during life as well as upon death. Wills, intestate succession, and trusts are the primary focus.
Elective courses are for third and fourth year students, and for transfer students who have already completed all or most of the NWCU standard curriculum but need additional courses to meet graduation requirements.
- Advanced Legal Research (6 units)
This course focuses on learning and practicing advanced legal research methods for scholarly legal writing, through the use of primary and secondary resources available online or through physical law libraries. Students write a law journal style paper on a topic of interest to them, using the research skills they have developed.
- Legal Document Drafting (6 units)
The course exposes students to basic legal document drafting in three key modes: litigating, informing and persuading, and rule-making. Drafting a broad range of documents, students will learn techniques applicable to the most common legal documents. Students will draft a complaint, motion, trial brief, statute revision, contract, and more. Additionally, students will consider the effect their writing style has upon the documents they draft, and they will learn how legal writing has affected case law.
- Legal Practice Internship (6 units)
The primary focus of the course is an internship, arranged by the student and approved by the school, which provides an opportunity for students to gain practical experience in law by working in a law office or court, under the supervision of a practicing attorney or a sitting judge. Students will complete several assignments related to the internship which encourage reflection and understanding of the skills required for a career in law. Additionally students will study proper handling of client funds, and will read a book related to law, selected from an approved list.
- Medical Jurisprudence (4 units)
A survey course covering health law issues including health care quality, access, organization, finance, and bioethics. The dynamic and complex relationship between the four themes of cost, quality, access, and choice are explored through case law and ongoing health reform public debate.
- Military Law (4 units)
A survey of the regulations for the governing of armed forces, particularly that branch of the law which respects military discipline and the government of persons employed in the military service of the United States.
- Philosophy of Law (4 units)
A study of the nature of law, persuasion, and legal arguments, primarily through cases that illustrate the concepts covered. Both traditional and contemporary philosophies of law are studied, including natural law, positivism, legal realism, economic legal theory, critical race theory, feminist legal theory, international law, and more.
- Professional Skills (6 units)
This course provides advanced law students the opportunity to consider what is required in setting up and maintaining a law practice, including both business management skills and lawyering skills such as client intake, discovery and case planning, and advocating for and providing legal counsel to clients. Students will handle a fictitious legal matter during the second half of the term, giving them an opportunity to work with the kinds of materials presented to lawyers in practice.
Letters From Graduates
I am writing to express my gratitude for your program. With a young family to support, traditional law school was out of the question. I was elated to learn that I could become an attorney through online course work without amassing huge amounts of debt.
Although the course work requires self motivation, I felt well prepared for bar which I passed on my first try.
During law school I became a certified law student which allowed me to participate in two civil trials and numerous depositions and mediation sessions. I would highly recommend that all NWCU students find a mentor in their locale and get right in to the practice of law while still in law school. Generally a local bar association can assist in that undertaking. Seeing the practical application of what you learn at NWCU is invaluable.
I am currently working in my father’s law practice in San Diego handling civil litigation matters. I regularly appear in court and at depositions. I am truly thrilled with my new profession. I love helping clients solve problems and find solutions to difficult and trying situations.
Once again thank you for your wonderful program which allowed me to reach my goal of being a duly licensed attorney and counselor at law.
Ryan M. McCabe, Esq.
(NWCU Class of 2005)
As a recent NWCU graduate, I want to take a moment to thank the great staff at NWCU for helping me achieve a personal goal that would likely have otherwise not been attainable.
My decision to attend law school came later in life than it would have for the “normal” law student. Having a family of my own, an existing career, and all the normal obligations that go along with growing older, attending a traditional law school at somewhere near $30k a year wasn’t an option.
At first I was skeptical about attending an online school like NWCU, but decided to give it a try. That was one of the best decisions of my life. It was clear right from the beginning that the staff at the school had one simple goal, i.e. providing their students with a world-class education at a reasonable price.
I feel ready to enter the legal profession without any need to be intimidated by a graduate of an ABA school. I have thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the staff and other students through the school’s online learning management platform. Once I tried it I quickly realized what an incredibly valuable tool this was for my education. I was able to post questions, comments and review issues in my studies and received prompt feedback from the faculty. Even better was being able to look at things that other students had posted and the responses they had received. I highly recommend that all students become thoroughly active on the platform as it will help their understanding of the law.
Thanks again for providing me an opportunity that I otherwise would have never been able to have. I look forward to having the opportunity to do great things in the legal profession that will make NWCU proud of one of their graduates.
(NWCU Class of 2006)
I would like to let you know that, after graduating from NWCU in January 1998, and passing the February 1998 California Bar Exam, I have been practicing as a maritime lawyer with a worldwide clientele, and have recently been made a Proctor member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States.
As I expected when I embarked on a legal education, my shipping clients are not in the least bit troubled by my external, non-traditional JD degree, and I have never regretted my decision to enroll in NWCU. Your progressive and efficient approach to law school teaching has been rewarded by the school’s longevity, for which you are to be congratulated.
F. Max Hardberger, Esq.
(NWCU Class of 1998)
It was a pleasure to have attended your School of Law. I wish now that I would have originally started with your institution from the beginning of my law studies. I feel like I would have had a stronger education because of the structure and requirements of your JD Program.
Upon graduation from your School of Law, I was promoted within my company to the level of Director. I almost daily use some aspect of my law studies in my workplace. I would highly recommend this University to anyone seeking a Juris Doctorate. The experience was wonderfully challenging, but getting that degree makes it all worth it.
(NWCU Class of 2005)
A few months after graduation from NWCU with a J.D. degree I moved to Europe. I got a job as a GSE 12 [Department of Defense rank]. It was for me the best of both worlds – all the US amenities with a European flare. That was in 2004. In my first job out of law school I was earning more than three times my previous income. I dreamed what for me was the impossible dream. And, thanks to NWCU it became a reality.
(NWCU Class of 2003)
I wish to thank the faculty and staff once again for the tremendous, reasonably priced education I received at Northwestern California University (NWCU) School of Law. Shortly after graduating from law school, I was hired as a Court Executive for the Third District Court in Utah. I have remained in this position for three years, and have found that a law degree has provided me with additional standing in the courts.
In my personal situation, as a working parent unable to attend school during the day and with no evening law school in Utah, NWCU provided a viable and affordable opportunity for me to attend law school and achieve a lifelong goal of becoming an attorney. Furthermore, having attended another non-traditional law school prior to enrolling at NWCU, I believe NWCU is the best law school of its kind.
I have also found that once a law student graduates and is admitted to the bar, distinctions on where one attended law school become less important and performance on the job is the overriding factor. For me, passing the California Bar Examination validated the NWCU curriculum.
Please accept my gratitude for your assistance in helping me achieve my goal of becoming an attorney.
Larry D. Gobelman
(NWCU Class of 1994)
I completed my course of study at Northwestern California University in April, 1994. I took and passed the California State Bar examination in July, 1994. I had not taken the trouble of completing and submitting the moral character documentation. As a result, I was not admitted to the bar until June 1995. Bit of advice: Submit this moral character material toward the end of your last year of study.
I have been active in solo practice since November 1995. I [normally] have an office in San Luis Obispo, but live and work in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for at least six months of each year since I remain on the faculty of the University of Alberta and must balance my duties at the University with law practice.
I devote about 12-15 hours a week to law. My practice is almost exclusively federal in focus, with about 80% dealing with immigration and the remainder to U.S. Federal agencies, e.g., U.S. Customs, FDA and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. I do some corporate, business and copyright law related to this federal practice. The majority of my clients are Canadian individuals or companies, with a smattering of clients from Asia and Africa. If I was to pigeonhole my practice it would be international/administrative law.
I am an advocate of identifying a legal niche and specializing [in it] since it is so hard to be a generalist and render competent service. Also, from a marketing standpoint a solo practitioner needs an identifying theme which sets him or her apart from the thousands of other lawyers.
I plan to take early retirement from my university position in about four years, gradually increasing my practice so that I am investing about forty hours per week. My focus will continue in the area of administrative law, with more attention to federal agencies and less to immigration. I will be moving my office to San Francisco, and opening an office in Seattle in two years. I may hire an associate in 1998.
My type of practice lends itself nicely to a “virtual” office existence, permitting me to operate anywhere in the world. Much of my legal work is conducted with the assistance of CD ROMs, internet links with Lexis-Nexis, FAX and conference calls. I strive to keep court appearances, hearings and depositions which I must attend in person, particularly in geographically remote areas, to a minimum. I recommend the virtual office highly to the solo practitioner because of the high cost of office overhead.
Because of the specialized focus of my practice, the law school courses of greatest applicability were in administrative law, constitutional law and civil procedure. Everything else, e.g., immigration and customs law, I have had to pick up on my own. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has a good mentoring program, and offers a number of books, manuals and courses to develop expertise. These resources have been critical in my practice. Graduates of Northwestern California University might consider joining one of the Bar association sections for their CLE opportunities and to acquire mentors.
W. Andrew Harrell
(NWCU Class of 1994)
I was admitted to the Bar on June 3, 1997. Since then, I have been relaxing and recovering from the intensively tight schedule of studying while maintaining the family and caring for children.
After a trip to Asia, I wish to establish a small office working on international business law, estate planning, and immigration law.
I really love the legal profession. I worked during the day in a law firm with a heavy workload and had to take care of two young children at night without much family support. You provided me with the best available channel to get a legal degree under my overall conditions.
Aside from what’s learned from law school passing the Bar Exam is directly related to the quantity and quality of time spent studying for the exam. In this regard, I found it useful to attend commercial preparation courses and to test myself on past bar exam questions.
Hsiao Han Wang
(NWCU Class of 1996)
I went to Northwestern California University School of Law, did some clerking in the last year of study for a local attorney, and graduated in 1992. I was able to pass the Bar Exam the first time, which speaks to the effectiveness of the NWCU program. I have been practicing law for 18 years, and my legal background prepared me for many different areas and styles of practice: I have worked in a law firm, taught law at two institutions, and enjoyed my private practice for many years. My NWCU education served me first in Environmental, Human Dignity and Corporate Responsibility law, and since 2000, in my practice, which is mainly Estate Planning. I chose to focus on that field because when my mother developed Alzheimer’s disease, I found out first-hand how important it is for families to have legal documentation that supports a positive outcome for the disabled and their families. It has been very rewarding.
I have NWCU to thank for all of this. Since I’m independent-minded, I loved the way Northwestern California University School of Law helped me take charge of my own future. A sound legal education furthered my understanding of the way things work in the world, and the emphasis on Common Law with a superstructure of statutory law made a complex subject much easier to grasp. I benefitted greatly from the support of the faculty and educational tools; but most of all, the self-reliance and research involved in this kind of study prepared me well for actually being an attorney. For students who have self-discipline and a love of learning, graduating from NWCU School of Law will provide a jump start on their law career.
Margaret Draper, Attorney At Law
(Class of 1992)
People have different reasons for wanting to study law. For me, I did it as a personal challenge. I grew up with the notion that law is a difficult subject and I merely wanted to prove to myself that I have the mental capacities to handle a “perceived” difficult subject, law.
As an airline pilot, my work schedule did not allow me to attend a traditional law school and distance law study was my only option. Northwestern California University offered the opportunity for me to establish my eligibility to sit for the California General Bar Exam at an affordable price. I am grateful for that.
The hours spent reading law books and “outlines” finally paid off when I received a letter in the mail informing me, “The Committee of Bar Examiners of the State of California is delighted to report that you achieved a passing score on the February 1997 administration of the California Bar Examination. Congratulations, you may justly be proud of your achievement”. I felt relieved after reading the letter because I would not have to attempt the bar exam a second time and deal with the uncertainty associated with it. Passing the bar exam allowed me to move on to other areas in life.
I was admitted to the California State Bar 12 days after receiving the “successful applicant notice” and I now practice real estate law and estate planning with a lawyer friend who has 20 years of experience. I still keep my flying job because that is the job that brings in the “bread and butter.”
In sum, studying law through the distance method requires great determination and self-motivation but the reward can be sweet indeed.
Alex Lin, Attorney at Law
Boeing 777 Pilot
(NWCU Class of 1997)