Yup, you don't have to go to law school at all. Anyone in CA can take the bar. And of course, there are lots of crazy people who think they can pass w/o having attended law school. They, of course,bring down the CA bar passage rate..
While Law School, per se, may not be required, all California Bar Applicants must complete some form of Legal Education. The following has been excerpted from the Cal Bar Committee Rule of Admission webpage
RULE VII. Educational Requirements
Section 2. Legal Education.
Every general applicant has the burden of establishing that he or she has met the following legal education requirement:
(a) Graduated from a law school approved by the American Bar Association or accredited by the Committee; or
(b) Studied law diligently and in good faith for at least four years in any of the following manners:
(1) In a law school that is authorized by the State of California to confer professional degrees; is registered with the Committee; and which requires classroom attendance of its students for a minimum of 270 hours a year; or
(2) In a law office in this State and under the personal supervision of a member of The State Bar of California who is, and who has been continuously, an active member of The State Bar of California for at least the last past five years; or
(3) In the chambers and under the personal supervision of a judge of a court of record of this State; or
(4) By instruction in law from a correspondence law school requiring 864 hours of preparation and study per year and which is registered with the Committee; or
(5) By any combination of the methods referred to in this subsection (b).
Section 3. Study in a Law Office or Judge's Chambers.
(a) To receive credit for one year of study, an applicant must have studied law in a law office or judge's chambers during regular business hours at least 18 hours each week for at least 48 weeks each year. To receive credit for one-half year of study, an applicant must have studied law in a law office or judge's chambers during regular business hours at least 18 hours a week for at least 24 weeks.
(b) The attorney or judge in whose office or chambers the applicant is studying must have given personal supervision to the applicant for at least five hours each week. "Personal supervision" refers to time actually spent with the applicant that is utilized primarily for the exposition and discussion of the law, the recitation of the cases by the applicant and the critical analysis of written assignments submitted by the applicant.
(c) The applicant shall file his or her intention to study in a law office or judge's chambers by filing such notice on the Committee's form accompanied by the fee specified in the schedule of fees published by the Committee within 30 days after the study began and also must pay a fee as specified in the schedule of fees in conjunction with the semi-annual reports filed pursuant to subsection (f).
(d) The attorney or judge under whom the applicant studied law shall file an initial report with the Committee within 30 days after the study began. The initial report shall contain an outline of the proposed course of instruction to be given the applicant and an affirmation by the attorney or judge that he or she will supervise the law study and conduct the required examinations.
(e) The applicant shall be examined at least once a month on study completed during the previous month. The examinations must be written and graded, and the questions and answers must accompany the semi-annual report required by subsection (f), below.
(f) A report must have been filed by the attorney or judge every six months, setting forth the number of hours the applicant studied law each week in the attorney's office or the judge's chambers during regular business hours, the number of hours the attorney or judge devoted to supervision each week, the page or chapter numbers and the titles of the books and other materials studied, the name of any other applicant whose law study was supervised by the attorney or judge, and such other information as the Committee may require.
(g) An attorney or judge may not personally supervise more than two applicants.
Section 4. Study by Correspondence.
(a) The correspondence law school must comply with the provisions of Rule XIX and XX of these rules and Rule 957 of the California Rules of Court and must require 864 hours of preparation and study each year for four years.
(b) To receive credit for one year of study by instruction in law from a correspondence law school, an applicant must have received passing grades in courses requiring not less than 864 hours of preparation and study during a period of not less than 48 weeks nor more than 52 consecutive weeks.
(c) To receive credit for one-half year of study by instruction in law from a correspondence law school, an applicant must have received passing grades in courses requiring not less than 432 hours of preparation and study during a period of not less than 24 nor more than 26 consecutive weeks. The transcript submitted to evidence correspondence study must indicate the date each course began and ended.
(a) An applicant who intends to begin the study of law may submit a written request for a determination of whether he or she has obtained the pre-legal education required prior to beginning such study. The request shall be on a form provided by the Committee, shall be accompanied by the fee specified in the schedule of fees and shall be accompanied by all certified transcripts necessary to make such a determination.
The following is also from the State bar of california website:
San Francisco, November 17, 2005 — The State Bar of California's Committee of Bar Examiners reported today that 48.8 percent of the applicants passed the July 2005 General Bar Examination (GBX).
This rate is slightly higher than the 48.2 percent passing rate on the July 2004 GBX. If the 4,072 people who passed the July 2005 exam satisfy other requirements for admission, they will become members of the State Bar.
Preliminary statistical analyses show that of the 8,343 applicants who took the GBX, 70.8 percent were first-time takers. The passing rate for 5,909 first-time applicants was 63.7 percent overall.
The passing rate for the 2,434 applicants repeating the examination was 12.7 percent overall. Preliminary statistical analyses show the first-time and repeater percent passing the GBX (rounded to whole numbers) by law school type as follows:
School Type First-Timers Repeaters
California ABA 70% 18%
Out-of-State ABA 65% 12%
CA (but not ABA) Accredited 26% 7%
Correspondence 22% 7%
Unaccredited 8% 5%
All Others 39% 14%
All Applicants 64% 13%
Also, here is a link to a pdf file with Cal Bar passage statistics.http://www.calsb.org/calbar/pdfs/admissions/Pass_StatsSummary.pdf