The only formal education I had before I began the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, was some foreign language classes, a stint in the United States Marines, and some useless typing lessons at a community college. One cool thing about this program is that you don’t need to waste tons of money when you study using the time-tested method of mentoring in a judge’s chambers or law office.
You will Already Know Everything the Practicing Lawyers Know By Study in a Law Office?
Yes, you should! I became an experienced civil litigator by reading the law.
The basics are:
- Take the CLEP, or “College Level Equivalency Program” test.
- After one year of consistent study, pass California’s First Year Law Student’s Examination. And this is also known as the Baby Bar “FYSLX. “
Once I passed the Baby Bar, I sat for the California Bar Examination 36 months or so later. But this was only after dedicated training under several skilled attorneys in various types of practices.
How to Become a Lawyer With No Law School?
You can also become an attorney in CA and a few other enlightened North American states using this method. Of course, the naysayers, especially law school grads, claim you only must attend law school and college to be a successful lawyer.
Let us dis-spell this thought. We understand that the ABA accredits law schools. At the time of this writing, the ABA discouraged candidates from becoming a lawyer without law school. This fact remains true. Sadly, this remains the case even though this was the only way to become an attorney until the creation of expensive schools later on in U.S. history.
The States that Still Follow Historical Methodology:
As far as I know, 7 U.S. states will still let you read the law in a law office with no law school degree: (Source):
- New York;
California’s program is known as the California State Bar Law Office Study Program.
“Applicants who obtain legal education by . . . law office study must have four years of law study and take an examination after their first year. Applicants who pass the examination within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take it will receive credit for all law study completed to the date of the examination passed.”
But “Applicants may have completed 2/3 of graduation requirements from an ABA-accredited law school and within 12 months after successful completion pursued the study of law in the law office of an attorney in the active practice of law in Maine on a full-time basis for at least one year . . .”
- New York: “Law office study permitted after successful completion of one year at an ABA-approved law school.” (See also)
- Vermont: “Four-year law office study program; must have completed three-fourths of work accepted for a bachelor’s degree in a college approved by the Court before commencing the study of law.”
- Wyoming: “Law office study permitted as a structured course comparable to 2 years at an ABA-approved law school Prior approval of independent study required.” No special requirements are needed to become an attorney without law school in Virginia or Washington as far as I could determine. All of the above information came from the “Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2004.” And this document was published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Famous American Lawyers, presidents and Supreme Court justices who became attorneys without school.
Lincoln Law School Method 101?
Most of all, reading for the law is the way President Abraham Lincoln and other Supreme Court justices were able to become lawyers in the past, as well as me. Those high powered men learned by doing it in a law office as law clerks and apprentices.
Historically, lawyers themselves read from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England to learn the law. And students studied while clerking for a lawyer or judge. After that, the candidate was orally examined by state supreme court judges. (Source.) The Bar Exam came along hundreds of years later.