how to become a lawyer without going to law school in the usa

by Dr. Kailey O'Keefe 7 min read

How do you become a lawyer without going to law school?

  1. Earn your high school diploma or GED. Earn your high school diploma to make yourself eligible to enroll in an undergraduate law program. ...
  2. Obtain your bachelor's degree. Get a Bachelor's Degree in Pre-Law from an accredited college or university to expand your knowledge of the law and cultivate skills to help you ...
  3. Enroll in a law office study. Enroll in a law office study program after you graduate from college to get firsthand work experience with law professionals.
  4. Study and pass the BAR exam. Study for and pass the BAR exam once you complete the state's requirements to become a lawyer. ...

Today, only four states — California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington — allow aspiring lawyers to take the bar exam without going to law school. Instead, they are given the option to apprentice with a practicing attorney or judge.Jan 6, 2017

How I became a lawyer without going to Law School?

  • To be selective about who enters the profession
  • Protecting the public against poor practioners
  • Enforcing a minimum standard of training
  • To ensure that insiders control and can govern the industry

Can you be a lawyer without going to Law School?

Today, only four states — California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington — allow aspiring lawyers to take the bar exam without going to law school. Instead, they are given the option to apprentice with a practicing attorney or judge. (New York, Maine and Wyoming offer an apprenticeship alternative as well, but also require some law school.)

How to be a lawyer without going to Law School?

The First-Year Law Students' Examination is a single-day exam that covers:

  • Community property
  • Business associations
  • Contracts
  • Professional responsibility
  • Civil procedure
  • Evidence
  • Remedies
  • Wills
  • Torts
  • Criminal law and procedure

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What states can a person practice law without law school?

Pick your location carefully if you want to become a lawyer without going to law school. Only four states—California, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington—allow potential law students to skip law school entirely.


Can I become a lawyer without studying law?

You don't need a law degree to become a lawyer – in fact, the modern legal profession is full of non-law graduates. The skills and experiences you gain from studying and working in other fields are assets that can make you a stronger candidate.

Can you become a lawyer without going to university?

Do I have to study for a law degree? You can become a lawyer without a law degree. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you will need to complete a 1-year law conversion course known as a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)or Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), which is mainly exams-based.

What state is it easiest to become a lawyer?

Easiest Bar Exam to Pass in the U.S.RankState Bar ExaminationCalculated Average LSAT1California160.682Louisiana154.793Washington158.124Oregon158.8344 more rows

What's the difference between attorney and lawyer?

Attorney vs Lawyer: Comparing Definitions Lawyers are people who have gone to law school and often may have taken and passed the bar exam. Attorney has French origins, and stems from a word meaning to act on the behalf of others. The term attorney is an abbreviated form of the formal title 'attorney at law'.

How to get into law school?

Enroll in a law office study. Study and pass the BAR exam . 1. Earn your high school diploma or GED. Earn your high school diploma to make yourself eligible to enroll in an undergraduate law program.

How to become a lawyer after college?

Enroll in a law office study program after you graduate from college to get firsthand work experience with law professionals. Working with law professionals through a law office study program allows you to grow your professional network. For example, you may ask your supervisor or another colleague to mentor you and give direction on how to pass the BAR exam. Check your state's website and speak with your professional network to get resources and guidance on how to find the right law office study program for you and additional instructions to become a lawyer.

How to become a lawyer in high school?

Take law classes in high school to get a basic understanding of law concepts before you take college courses. 2. Obtain your bachelor's degree. Get a Bachelor's Degree in Pre- Law from an accredited college or university to expand your knowledge of the law and cultivate skills to help you as a lawyer.

What states require you to go to law school?

California. Vermont. Virginia. Washington. Three states require you to go to law school, but you can substitute one or two years of your law school education by working in an apprenticeship program, formally known as a law office study program. These three states include: New York. Maine. Wyoming.

When will law school start in 2021?

February 22, 2021. Law school provides specialized education to students interested in becoming a lawyer. Some students aim to become a lawyer without attempting to go to law school. Knowing the process of becoming a lawyer helps you decide if you want to go to law school or if you want to pursue a different career path.

Do You Need a Law Degree to Take the Bar Exam?

In most states and U.S. jurisdictions, you will need a law degree before you are eligible to take the bar exam. That being said, the states that offer alternatives to law school do not require a law degree before you sit for the bar.

States Offering Legal Apprenticeships

The states we discuss below do not require any type of law school or law degree before you are allowed to take the bar exam. The requirements for each state are different, so make sure you understand what an apprenticeship in that jurisdiction would entail before enrolling in one.

States That Require Some Law School

If you don't mind taking some law school classes before going a non-traditional route to your legal career, there are a couple of states that will allow an apprenticeship experience alongside some law school before you are able to take the bar and become a lawyer.

How Do You Obtain an Apprenticeship?

If you think that an apprenticeship would be a great solution for you, you may also be wondering about how to successfully obtain one and start your journey to becoming a lawyer.

The Pros and Cons of Apprenticeship

Even though an apprenticeship might be the right choice for some people, it is important to consider both the pros and cons of such a decision. This will help you evaluate whether or not undertaking an apprenticeship is the right choice for you and your personal goals.

The Best Legal Education for Your Life

Deciding how to obtain a legal education can be a major decision and is not something to take lightly. If you are unable to attend law school full time or take on the potential financial burden of a traditional law school route, it is possible to become a lawyer without first attending law school.

How many hours of law school do you need to be a Virginia attorney?

Virginia only requires three years of study in a law office. However, law readers must complete at least 40 weeks of study each year, a minimum of 25 hours of study each week, 18 of which must take place in a supervising attorney’s office. The supervising attorney must provide at least three hours of direct supervision and must have ...

What states do you need to live in to become a law reader?

If you don’t already live in California, Vermont, Virginia or Washington, you may need to relocate to one of these states. These four states provide “law reader” or apprenticeship programs for students who opt to bypass law school.

How long does it take to become a California law reader?

California requires “law readers” to complete four years of study in a law office or Judge’s Chambers under the supervision of an attorney who must have five years of active law practice within the state. Study time must equate to at least 18 hours per week, 5 hours of which the reader must be under the direct supervision of their supervising attorney. California law readers are also required to take monthly exams, complete a Baby Bar Exam after their first year of study and also submit progress reports to the CA State Bar every six months. California also requires an initial fee of $158 as well as a $105 fee which must be submitted along with the progress reports every six months.

Does Washington State have a law clerk program?

This program is codified under Rule 6 of the Washington Supreme Court’s Admission and Practice Rule. It requires law clerks to be employed for four years in a law office. They must complete 30 hours of work/study each week, 3 hours of which the clerk must be directly supervised by a supervising attorney who has at least 10 years of experience. The clerk must also pay a $1500 annual fee.

Is it hard to get a job with a JD?

Jobs are already extremely difficult to come by for students with a JD from a top law school. Therefore, due to the unpopularity of this option and the lack of knowledge, nationwide, firms may be apprehensive to hire students who take this route. Good luck as you make your decision!

Did Kim Kardashian go to law school?

What was more shocking, was the fact that she is doing this without going to law school. Yes, you heard me right. Kim Kardashian, wife of Kanye, mother to North, Saint, Chicago and now Psalm West, found a pathway to become an attorney, through which she can avoid the dreaded cold call in front of hundreds of people and extensive class lectures ...

Becoming a lawyer without law school

The reason you are here is simple – you want to become a lawyer and you don’t want to, or, for whatever reason, can’t go to law school and spend 8+ years preparing for this vocation. Is it possible? The answer is yes, though some limitations may apply. Let us explain.

How does one go about doing this?

There is a little known way to become a lawyer without going to law school. You can do it by being self-taught and reading the law. The process itself is longer, and potentially more strenuous. However, it doesn’t end there. You need to go through an apprenticeship program, which differs depending on the location.

Why should you do it?

There are several famous people who did not, in fact, go to law school. One of them was Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father who is considered to be the main author of the Declaration of Independence. Another famous example is Abraham Lincoln.

Where Can You Become a Lawyer Without Going to Law School?

In the modern world, so many things of the past are being challenged and it is interesting to watch it happen. This trend also applies to law school.

Lawyer Apprenticeship

In late July this year, many students will tak the Bar Exam and many will fail. That’s just the nature of it. It’s a tough exam and it should be. Law is a tough subject.

A History Lesson

In the colonial days of the United States, most of the legal professionals and officers were in one way or another from England. All these lawyers from England were trained through an apprenticeship program called the Inns of Court.

How many hours do attorneys have to teach?

Lack of professors or instructors whose full-time job is to teach (while LOSP students must have an attorney mentor, the attorney's job primarily is to practice law, not to teach students; most attorneys will have the minimal 5 hours per week available to supervise you, and not more)

How many hours do you have to work to get paid for LOSP?

Opportunities to work and earn income while studying (though not all LOSP students necessarily have a paid job in their law office, many of them do, and for those who don't get paid to work in the law office, the LOSP only requires a commitment of 18 hours per week so it's conducive to side hustles)

Can I become a lawyer without going to law school?

I became a lawyer without going to law school. Yes, that's possible in California, through the Law Office Study Program (LOSP) administered by the State Bar of California, which allows study in a law office or judge's chambers in lieu of law school. These days the LOSP (sometimes referred to as “reading the law” or apprenticing to become a lawyer) ...

1. Title examiner

Primary duties: A title examiner, also known as a title searcher or title abstractor, supports lawyers with various duties relating to real estate records.

2. Paralegal

Primary duties: A paralegal, also known as a legal assistant, is a professional who performs supporting tasks for lawyers, helping them prepare for trials, hearings, depositions or meetings. Among their primary duties, they conduct research and gather evidence for legal cases, write and revise legal documents and maintain records in a law office.

3. Police officer

Primary duties: A police officer is a public servant who enforces laws and apprehends individuals who violate them. There are different types of police officers. Some patrol and protect designated areas, while others investigate crimes by gathering and examining evidence.

4. Legal secretary

Primary duties: A legal secretary is an administrative assistant who's specifically trained to perform clerical duties in the field of law. Though they're commonly called legal assistants, legal secretaries don't perform substantive legal work, so there is little overlap between their role and that of a paralegal.

5. Mediator

Primary duties: A mediator is a professional who helps disputing parties resolve conflicts outside of court. They commonly work on cases relating to injuries, contracts and interpersonal disagreements. With excellent skills in problem-solving and listening, they encourage communication between the parties and facilitate negotiations.

6. Social worker

Primary duties: A social worker is a public official who helps people in need by directing them to resources that can improve their lives. There are various categories of social work, with workers specializing in the care of groups such as the poor, children, mental health patients, disabled patients and more.

7. Legal writer

Primary duties: A legal writer is a technical writer who writes for law professionals or about legal issues. There are various types of legal writers. For example, some are responsible for writing briefs, which are summaries of a party's argument in a legal case, and others may report on legal cases for newspapers, magazines or online channels.


Where Can I Pass The Bar Exam Without Going to Law School?

  • Four states currently allow an aspiring attorney to take the bar exam without attending any law school: 1. California, 2. Virginia, 3. Vermont, and 4. Washington Instead, the aspiring attorney participates in an apprenticeship with a licensed attorney or judge. Each state’s apprenticeship requirements are different and have varying lengths of study...
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  • Under Rule 4.29(A) of the state bar’s legal code, all candidates seeking to become attorneys must: 1. Sit in a practicing attorney’s office or judge’s chambers for 18 hours per week for a period of four continuous years; 2. Pass the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (also known as the “baby bar”); 3. Have a positive moral character determination; 4. Pass the Multi-state Professional Res…
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  • The Virginia Board of Bar Examinershas a similar program called the law readers program. To be admitted to the apprenticeship program, the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree. The program requires the following of aspiring attorneys: 1. Study for at least 25 hours per week in the supervising attorney’s office for 3 years, with at least 18 weekly hours studying directly with the …
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  • The Vermont Board of Bar Examiners program is called the Law Office Study Program, and aspiring attorneys must have “…a bachelor’s degree from an institution of higher education whose accreditor has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education.” (Vt. R. Bar Admin. 7(c)). Vermont’s Law Office Study Program requires the following: 1. The applicant must complete 4 y…
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  • The Washington Board of Law Examiners has a program referred to as the Law Clerk Program, allowing aspiring attorneys to take the bar exam after 4 years of working with a lawyer, firm, or judge for the equivalent of full-time employment. Washington state requires that aspiring attorneys have an undergraduate degree in a field other than law. Specifically, under the state’s …
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Is This Common? Who Chooses This Path?

  • This method of qualifying for the bar examination is relatively uncommon and is only offered in four states. However, the people who most commonly choose this path to sit for the bar exam have a variety of reasons for doing so. Many times, the people who choose the apprenticeship route seek to become attorneys as a second career and do not want to accumulate the debt ass…
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What Are The Pros and Cons of This Approach?

  • The apprenticeship route has its own pros and cons, as well. First, the pros! 1. The most obvious pro is that the apprenticeship route is a much less expensive pathway to becoming a lawyer in the states it is offered. The only costs are books, study materials, registration fees, and bar fees, which typically total around $10,000 per program. 2. Additionally, a key pro is that this program …
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Take A Bar Prep Courses!

  • We recommend that aspiring attorneys looking to pass the bar exam without going to law school take a bar prep course! We understand that the path to being barred is not the same for everyone and is not linear. Whatever decision aspiring attorneys ultimately make, there is one constant—passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (“MPRE”) and the stat…
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Read The Fine Print!

  • We recommend that aspiring attorneys looking to become licensed via an apprenticeship program become aware of the fine print. Fine print? Yes, unfortunately, there is some state-specific fine print associated with the apprenticeship route. For example, Vermont limits the number of times an aspiring lawyer can sit for the bar exam! The Board notes in the Rules of Admission to the Ba…
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