Do you need a special kind of reference because you must know someone that can give you a reference? I mean, not one person? Not a LS prof, an UG prof, an employer (paid or volunteer), not one person? I've asked a LS prof for a letter of rec and I never even spoke to him. They just wrote one off of the performance I did in the class.
Don't know anything about SD legal market but I believe there are 3 ABA accredited law schools down there with USD being the top. I'd imagine the market would be very competitive there as in many other large cities in CA like LA and SF.
I personally have not lived there but I have relatives there I visit often. It's a pretty nice city, but very expensive as most cities in So Cal (especially in this recent market). Very nice weather, beautiful beaches.