LAMC Graduate Passes State Bar on First Attempt

November 27, 2023


Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC) graduate Armando Sanchez, now attorney Armando Sanchez, successfully completed law school and passed the California State Bar on his first attempt. This is an impressive feat, especially considering that the California Bar Exam maintains a 50% passage rate, which contributes to its reputation as the most demanding Bar Exam in the country.

Sanchez is a first-generation college and law school graduate. His mother was born in Mexico, and his father, also of Mexican descent, was born in the United States. His family dynamic also includes his Godfather, who is a Los Angeles Superior Court judge and former deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office (LADA).

Photo portrait of Armando Sanchez

Sanchez’s path to success started at Mission, where he majored in Political Science after taking a class with professor Dr. Ebru Durukan, now the chair of the Social Sciences Department. “Professor Durukan is very knowledgeable and so passionate about political science that she made me want to learn more about it,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez’s other favorite professor at Mission was Mark Pursley, with whom he took Philosophy courses. “Professor Pursley knew so much and was unintentionally funny – he opened a window getting you to think about life from Plato to contemporary philosophy – all in all, a great guy!” Sanchez was also inspired by his English professor, John Orozco. “I have two of his published books. Professor Orozco talked to us about life. He expected a lot from us, and I learned so much. My writing got so much better because of him. Even after I went to CSUN, I would go visit him – I missed him that much!”

After graduating from Mission, Sanchez went to California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he continued his political science studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts. At CSUN, his desire to become an attorney solidified when he took law classes with adjunct professor Craig Renetzky, a retired former deputy district attorney with his own criminal defense practice. “Renetzky taught his Jurisprudence and Criminal Procedure classes like a law school class, mostly using the Socratic method of teaching,” said Sanchez. But it was his ‘war stories’ that inspired Sanchez the most. 

After taking a year off between college and law school, Sanchez buckled down, took the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and was accepted to Southwestern Law School, which awarded him a scholarship to help pay for tuition and books. Sanchez’s first year at Southwestern was the year COVID-19 hit, and all his classes were live online. “Even though this meant I did not have to drive to and from school, I missed the opportunity to talk with other students and be involved in school activities.” This all changed during his second and third years in law school, when he participated in Southwestern’s prized Trial Advocacy Honors Program, serving on their Executive Board. He also interned for LADA, an internship program that he would continue throughout law school and after graduation under the tutelage of Deputy District Attorney, Ranna Jahanshahi. Sanchez credits DDA Jahanshahi with his decision to apply to LADA. “Ranna is a passionate advocate for victims of serious crimes. She is a victim’s last resort for them to get justice.” To Sanchez there is fulfillment from helping the community and advocating for people who cannot advocate for themselves.

What advice does Sanchez have for Mission students? “It comes in two parts: (1) Work hard and believe in yourself, it sounds cliché but ‘you can do it!’ It seemed impossible for me to achieve my dreams when I was a student at Mission. But here I am, I believed in myself; and (2) There is a system in place at Mission to get what you want and whether you want to or not, follow that system, do the work and what they tell you to do, and you will be successful. At Mission, that system is the Pathway to Law School, it was not a pathway that existed when I went to Mission, and I wish it would have been. Like many others before me, I had to make my own path, but now it’s even easier, so take the classes they tell you to, and you will be prepared for law school – take advantage of it.”

What’s Next? Becoming a Deputy District Attorney. “I love being in the courtroom. I could be a life-long prosecutor and maybe later follow in my Godfather’s footsteps and become a judge or give back to students, teaching them law in a fun way – telling them a ton of my stories.”

About LAMC’s Law Pathway Program
The Los Angeles Mission College’s Pathway to Law School Program is open to students who plan to pursue their studies in law. The program consists of a set of courses that prepare students to succeed in law school and leads to a certificate awarded upon completion by California LAW Pathways. Students in the program are provided with advisement, fellowship & scholarship recommendations and receive guidance as assistance in applying to law school.

To learn more about the LAMC Law School Pathways program please visit our webpage.