The Law: Degrees for Sale

California is a state of opportunity. Need an elephant? A Los Angeles firm can rent you one. Want to found your own church? No problem—a religious sect in Modesto advertises charters at $2 a month. From fast food to faster skateboards, whatever Californians want, there is usually an enterpriser around to sell it. The trendiest item now on the market: legal education.

Teaching law is a boom-time business in California, home of one-quarter of the more than 200 law schools in the nation. Admission can be a cinch. Though quality institutions like the University of California Law...