Six California law schools and the state bar have teamed with community colleges to put more students on the road to a legal career.

Announced Thursday at Hayward's Chabot College, the Community Colleges Pathway to Law School initiative will give students personal advising, mentoring, financial aid counseling and preparation for the LSAT, the law school entrance exam.

"This project will put talented and promising community college students on a trajectory to enter some of the finest law schools in the nation," said Brice W. Harris, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, in a news release. It will make the legal profession "more diverse and the justice system more reflective of our state," he said.

Law schools are under increasing pressure to diversify their classrooms and, in some cases, to fill their seats with highly qualified students. A tough legal job market and rising law school tuition has put legal education -- and many aspiring lawyers -- in a bind.

Across the country last year, the number of people applying to law school fell by nearly a third since 2010, the lowest number in more than a decade.

The six participating law schools are the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, UC Irvine School of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law and Loyola Law School, according to the chancellor's office.


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The Bay Area community colleges in the program are Chabot College in Hayward, College of Alameda, Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Gavilan College in Gilroy, Merritt College in Oakland, San Jose City College and Solano Community College.

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.