DIY Law School: Learn the Law Without Law School
July 30, 2014 1:00 PM Subscribe
"'Attorneys trained in this way will be able to be average people,' Ms. Orsi said, 'not just because they don’t have debt, but because law school tells us that we’re really special.'” [NYT]
"Reading law" or "legal apprenticeship" had been the most common way to become a lawyer in the US until the late nineteenth century. Abraham Lincoln, like many of his contemporaries, became a lawyer without formal legal education (more on the history of legal education and apprenticeship [pdf]).
With the ongoing concern over the state of American legal education ("US legal bubble can't pop soon enough" "The Law School Bubble Is Bursting" "The Law School Bubble Has Burst") [previously 1, 2, 3] and the persistently bleak job prospects for law school graduates, aspiring lawyers may want to consider the traditional method.
It is still possible to gain a law license without going to law school in a few states: Studying Law in a Law Office or Judge's Chambers in California, 4 Year Law Office Study in Vermont, Law Reader Program in Virginia, and Law Clerk Program in Washington.
Or to mix legal education with legal apprenticeship: 2 years of law school + 1 year of "study of law in the law office of an attorney" [pdf] in Maine, "Study of Law in Law Office," which must include at least one year of law school in New York, and at least one year of law school + "studying law at least two years in the office of a member of the bar" in Wyoming.
So how to do this?
How to Pass the California State Bar Exam Without Law School
How to Become a Lawyer Without Going to Law School
LikeLincoln.org's Resources & Sample Curriculum for Legal Apprentices
Redesigning the Bar Study Experience (not specific to legal apprentices)
Thoughts from lawyers who have gone through this process:
The Path Rarely Taken: Through California’s Law Office Study Program, veteran practitioners help aspiring lawyers join the bar
Reflections on the Vermont Bar Exam
Six Months Turned into Decades
Apprentices Take Law Into Their Own Hands
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