The University of California regents, a dominant force in California education, plans to open an additional law school in 2009. The University of California, Irvine is set to cast off in only two years, naming the renowned Erwin Chemerinsky dean of the Donald Bren School of Law. Chemerinsky, a household name to any law student who showed up to constitutional law, is a shoo-in for success. Yet, with roughly 9,000 soon-to-be attorneys awaiting their July California bar results, competition within the job market is noticeably fierce.

Despite a historically low bar-passing rate, the California legal market is not prepared to assimilate the vast number of entry-level attorneys produced each year. According to the State Bar of California, a total of 14,774 people took the July 2006 and February 2007 bar exams; 6,811 passed, for an annual pass rate of 46 percent. There are currently 211,973 registered attorneys within the state of California. Since the U.S. Census Bureau estimated California’s 2006 population to be 36,457,549, that equates to about one attorney for every 172 people within the state. With almost 15,000 people sitting for the California bar each year, approximately 6,900 newly inaugurated attorneys will be eligible to enter the California legal market. The question arises: How many new attorneys can California undertake?

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