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  • Four Famous Founders Who Became Lawyers With No Law School

    Four Famous Founders Who Became Lawyers With No Law School

The podcast hosted by Mike Ehline discusses four famous Americans who became lawyers with no law school. This is part of our series by personal injury lawyer Michael Ehline covering the basics of law study in the State of California.

Podcast Topics:

  • End of the Inns of Court Training Model
  • Examples of famous men who became lawyers with no law school student
  • And more…
  • Podcast Transcript - Four Famous Lawyers

    Podcast Transcript - Four Famous Lawyers

    0:00 Hello, I'm attorney Mike Ehline and I 0:02 am here today again to sort of finish up 0:05 our last discussion 0:07 on becoming a lawyer 0:11 with no law school under the common law 0:13 history of doing it that 0:17 way. So what I'm doing here 0:20 just to explain, is on the 0:23 website e-h-l-i-n-e-l-a-w 0:29 0:31 I have a law study blog section. 0:35 So, if you go to the navigation menu in 0:37 the drop-down there you can click on it. 0:39 And what that'll do is allow you to look 0:41 at the same material that I'm using 0:44 to explain 0:47 these videos 0:50, and I'm also including, you know a 0:52 screenshot I'm doing this on the cheap I 0:53 don't have a lot of time. I'm busy. I'm a 0:55 lawyer. 0:56 But I get 0:57 at least 20 calls a week from people 1:00 trying to learn how to become a lawyer 1:01 without Law School, 1:04 um how you know, is Kim Kardashian 1:07 going to be able to do it etc. I want 1:09 to make this quick because I don't like 1:10 boring people, 1:12 and I will allow you to do follow-up 1:15 questions in the comments. I got up early 1:18 this morning so I haven't taken a shower 1:21 I'm kind of a mess. 1:22 Just work with me at least you get to 1:24 see the real me before I go and do my 1:28 obligatory workout. 1:32 Let's see here, so let's kind of get into 1:35 it so in this 1:37 session. 1:39 I'm gonna finish up. So last time we 1:42 discussed the common law history 1:45 of becoming a lawyer without Law School 1:49 with respect to American common law and 1:53 where it came from, and we discussed that 1:56 there was a Knights Templar origin in that 1:58 Knight's Templar actually started our 2:01 first Inns of Court, which were basically 2:04 lodges where 2:06 law readers and 2:08 pupils would be mentored by judges and 2:12 other lawyers, we discussed that the 2:15 original law was ecclesiastical law that 2:18 came from 2:19 the Catholic church. And that the kings 2:24 of the different countries would 2:25 establish their own Kings benches with 2:28 their own law but the common people 2:30 never really had an advocate for 2:33 themselves 2:34 other than for religious disputes. 2:37 So there wasn't a whole lot of justice 2:39 for regular people and that's where the 2:41 term common law comes from so ultimately 2:44 I'll just go down to the bottom here 2:46 because I just want to close out with. 2:47 What I didn't touch on last time 2:51 and we also discussed the bar where that 2:53 comes from the bar across the gates to 2:57 the knights Temple where they trained 2:58 lawyers, and it comes from some other 3:01 things that were integrated into it such 3:03 as 3:04 a bar that you would have to pass in 3:06 order to walk up to the more educated 3:09 lawyers and we also talked about the 3:13 fact that 3:15 the way that law was taught back then 3:17 was more akin to a guild, like the stone 3:20 masons where you would have an 3:22 apprentice and 3:24 squire or whatever, and you would have a 3:26 master or a knight basically. And it just 3:29 sort of went through there so let's just 3:31 go really quick to the bottom here okay 3:33 so, 3:35 ultimately, the Inns of court and the 3:39 reading for the law system became 3:40 standardized both in the United States 3:43 now and in England starting first in 3:47 England with the first law schools 3:48 starting around 1729 3:51 [Music] 3:53 because Martin Luther popularized the 3:56 printing press and so more information 3:58 could get out there 4:00 um 4:02 training for lawyers became replaced 4:04 with more reading materials like black 4:06 Stones commentaries on the English law 4:08 and Sir Francis Bacon's writings, in fact 4:10 that's pretty much what Abraham Lincoln 4:12 studied, and we'll get into that 4:14 so 4:17 Sir William Blackstone was an interesting 4:19 fellow his position was that you 4:21 shouldn't be a judge or even a 4:23 politician if you know the law unless 4:26 you know the law and are meant to keep it 4:28 well. 4:29 Interesting because modernly, many people 4:32 would argue that that's the exact 4:34 opposite of what's happening to 4:35 politicians and judges we've just heard 4:37 allegations recently that the Sinaloa 4:40 drug cartels that have been funding 4:43 elections in Arizona so they can keep 4:45 that border open and we just saw a 4:48 really interesting movie called Sound of 4:50 Freedom, where they talk about human 4:51 trafficking. 4:52 So many people would argue that maybe we 4:56 don't have people in positions of power 4:58 who know the law and mean to keep it 5:00 well perhaps we would be obliged to look 5:04 at Sir Francis Bacon and William 5:07 Blackstone's writings. 5:09 B,ut 5:10 in any event the reading for the law 5:13 method was really interesting because 5:15 you would go before a panel usually of 5:18 three judges 5:20, and because they knew you, they knew you 5:23 were of chaste character you've eaten 5:25 with them, dined with them, argued cases 5:27 with them they came to moot courts with 5:29 you to listen to you you swept out their 5:31 offices at night lived worked trained 5:34 with them 5:35 you would be sworn into the bar by 5:38 having an oral exam but where they would 5:40 ask you questions and they would invite 5:42 you to pass the bar and that's how you 5:43 would become a practicing lawyer in your 5:46 jurisdiction 5:47 and that's the general rule okay that 5:50 was with the Inns of Court 5:52 now ultimately 5:54 there were the ends were sort of 5:58 replaced and became more like 6:00 almost like Masonic lodges more like a 6:03 social club and and that sort of was 6:05 replaced by law school so let's just get 6:07 into 6:09 today we're going to talk about 6:12 famous lawyers 6:15 who became lawyers with no law school. 6:19 And then in our next episode we're going 6:21 to get into the common law history of 6:24 law schools, 6:25 uh in America and in England 6:28, and then in another series, we're going 6:30 to talk about the different states and 6:32 jurisdictions that still allow you to 6:34 become a lawyer without law school since 6:36 the governments sort of took over and 6:38 propagandized law schools to a large 6:41 degree. 6:42 Uh good luck finding a non-group think 6:45 law student these days people it's kind 6:48 of scary. 6:49 But let's go down 6:52 and start our conversation 6:55 so we know that many of our founding 6:59 fathers 7:00 became lawyers with no law school the 7:03 most famous one I think would be Abraham 7:05 Lincoln, a lot of us may not know this 7:07 but we're going to get into some other 7:08 famous lawyers who became lawyers 7:10 without law school 7:12 um but 7:15 we also need to understand that 7:19 there are different degrees of lawyers 7:21 without law school. There's lawyers 7:22 without law school, there's lawyers who 7:24 didn't have a law degree, there's lawyers 7:25 who didn't have an undergrad so in my 7:27 article titled 7:30 list of famous Americans who became a 7:33 lawyer without college or law school I 7:35 actually break down each one 7:38 by degree by type of situation that 7:41 they're in. 7:42 So 7:44 I break it down into four categories 7:46 lawyers with no parochial education 7:48 lawyers with some higher education 7:51 lawyers with an undergrad who read law 7:54 and passed the bar 7:55 and lawyers who attended law school and 7:57 also read law. In other words they went 8:00 to law school for a little bit of time 8:01 maybe they read law first and then there 8:04 was a law school that finally came into 8:06 existence because the existence because 8:08 there weren't any and then they went to 8:10 those law schools. 8:12 Ao I'm going to start out with 8:15 a list of famous Americans who passed 8:17 the bar with no basic education or no 8:20 law school. 8:22 So and I wanted you to know that many of 8:25 them well our first Supreme Court 8:28 Justice and many state justices have 8:30 done it. 8:32 So when you talk to a modern academic 8:34 today they'll be like oh you don't have 8:37 a degree you're not qualified to talk 8:39 about this. You know you don't oh you 8:41 didn't go to a regular law school you're 8:43 not qualified you don't know what you're 8:45 doing. 8:46 Um, 8:48 so I just want you to see that that's 8:50 not how it always was and people weren't 8:52 always so quick to think that someone 8:55 who's never practiced law but got a 8:57 teaching credential would be better at 8:59 practicing law than someone who actually 9:01 tried cases did depositions moot courts 9:05 and studied under judges and lawyers. So 9:08 you have to make that decision you 9:11 If you believe in academic intelligence over 9:13 common sense and Real-World Experience, 9:15 I'll never be able to convince you. I 9:18 think both systems are good I think that 9:20 law schools fail their students by not 9:23 forcing them to do internships in any 9:27 event. 9:28 I'm getting off the beaten path. 9:30 Excuse me um, 9:32 so, yes you can be a judge without a law 9:34 degree in some states that's true, 9:37 you don't need a law degree to be the 9:40 president 9:41, and then here are some famous Americans 9:44 who became judges lawyers and presidents, 9:48 sometimes with no basic education. So 9:50 there was Patrick Henry 9:52 John Rutledge 9:55 John Marshall and Abraham Lincoln. 9:58 I'm just going to focus on these guys. 10:00 But just real quick I want to take a 10:02 scroll down here because I want you to 10:05 see how many people there were 10:08 who 10:10 in some way and I've put in here in 10:12 Brackets no undergrad, no law school 10:14 Stephen Douglas 10:16 Terence Darrow no undergrad no law 10:18 school sees that 10:20 Joseph's story 10:22 You may not know who these people are 10:24 because unfortunately our academic 10:25 system in my opinion has failed us they 10:28 teach us to hate our country and, instead 10:30 of teaching us to celebrate it in its 10:32 Rich history and its Evolution to become 10:35 a fair and better place. 10:37 But I want you to take a look and so 10:39 you'll understand 10:41 and a lot of people 10:43 a lot of people oh look, Francis Scott 10:46 Key I'll bet you don't know who he is 10:47 unless you're a Boomer or a gen Xer. 10:50 Because I doubt they teach that in 10:51 schools anymore. 10:53 All famous people I go into are 10:56 lawyers with no undergrad who read law 10:58 and passed the bar. John Jay, 11:01 he is our first Chief Justice of 11:04 the Supreme Court. 11:06 He never attended law school he did have an 11:09 undergrad. 11:10 And I'll get into all this once we 11:14 all the way down so I don't know there's 11:15 at least a hundred guys here again I 11:17 mean these things took me months to put 11:19 all this stuff together there's nobody 11:21 who has a more comprehensive 11:24 view or reading of any of this stuff so 11:28 let's just go back up to the top and 11:30 we're just going to talk about these 11:31 guys really quick 11:34 to do so let's start with 11:37 Patrick Henry 11:39 so Patrick Henry 11:41 um was 11:43 born in Hanover County 11:46 and he read for the law he was basically 11:48 self-taught 11:50 and then he got sworn into the bar after 11:52 an oral examination by a board of 11:54 examiners and he the highest status he 11:56 achieved in our country was the founding 11:59 father of Virginia which is pretty cool 12:01 and his famous quote was Give me liberty 12:04 or give me death and I can relate to 12:06 that because you can see This is My 12:08 Philosophy the Spartan philosophy of the 12:11 Marine Corps 12:13 so let's get into the next one John 12:16 Rutledge now John brutledge is really 12:19 interesting no parochial no law school 12:21 and he was the second Chief Justice of 12:23 the U.S Supreme Court he actually 12:26 studied at the middle Temple as a 15 12:28 year old that's another thing also the 12:30 kids were much younger when they were 12:32 they were all it was almost more like 12:34 how Asian families are where they were 12:36 teaching their kids at a super young age 12:39 they kept a strong two-parent family in 12:41 place with a very strong disciplinarian 12:43 as a father 12:45 I believe the average person 12:48 who was one of our delegates to the 12:51 Constitutional Convention spoke at least 12:53 seven different languages 12:56 now people don't even speak English very 12:59 well 13:00 so you can imagine 13:03 a lot of this had to do with just 13:05 discipline and Jocko willink will tell 13:08 you this is My Philosophy discipline is 13:10 freedom if you you know let a bunch of 13:12 undisciplined school teachers teacher 13:15 kids they'll be undisciplined kids and 13:17 they'll follow the philosophies of those 13:19 so-called academics 13:21 so I wanted you to sort of get a look 13:24 at what's going on here with this 13:27 founding father now John Rutledge is an 13:29 interesting fellow because he actually 13:30 studied at the middle Temple as a 15 13:32 year old he was admitted into the middle 13:34 Temple 13:37 and I actually have a copy of the middle 13:39 Temple Records right here showing it 13:41 there and that's on the website if 13:43 you're a historian and you want to know 13:44 more about it 13:46 ultimately he got his law license in 13:49 1760 he was called to the English bar 13:52 and said calling you to the bar right 13:54 and then he sailed back to Charleston 13:55 upon swearing his oath 13:58 he practiced law in South Carolina 14:02 he was an elder brother of the founding 14:05 father Edward Rutledge and he chaired 14:08 the committee to draft the constitution 14:10 in 1787. ultimately he became an 14:13 associate Justice of the Supreme Court 14:14 and the second Chief Justice of our 14:16 country and he became again the first 14:20 governor of South Carolina after he 14:23 signed the Declaration of Independence 14:25 and his famous quote is so long as we 14:29 may have an independent Judiciary the 14:31 great interests of the people will be 14:33 saved and this is one of the reasons why 14:35 the federal bench gives lifetime 14:38 appointments to federal judges because 14:40 they figured like how California is 14:43 where if you have politically appointed 14:45 judges 14:46 it's highly likely they're going to go 14:49 along with the political program so for 14:51 example uh gender affirming care it's 14:54 highly unlikely that a California judge 14:56 is going to rule in front of the parent 14:58 who doesn't want to affirm so-called The 15:00 Firm the kid's gender because it they 15:03 might not get reappointed to the bench 15:05 so many people believe that that makes 15:07 it a less independent Judiciary because 15:10 many people argue that California judges 15:13 are Political Animals 15:15 and so that would be the reason one of 15:17 the reasonings behind not just an 15:19 explanation it's not my opinion 15:21 but this is just what other people have 15:23 to say and I don't have the answers for 15:25 that one so 15:27 let's get into the next one 15:30 John Marshall now John Marshall had no 15:33 education at all nothing 15:35 and he was born in Germantown Virginia 15:39he 15:40 was on leave from the Army when he went 15:43 to some lectures 15:45 and from William and Mary's College 15:49 while he was reading for the law 15:51 ultimately he got a law license and he 15:54 was submitted to the bar but he's 15:55 another law reader 15:57 he fought under George Washington During 15:59 the Revolution and it became an 16:00 associate Justice of the Supreme Court 16:03 his famous quote is an unlimited power 16:05 to tax involves necessarily the power to 16:08 destroy it's interesting how all of 16:10 these guys who attended who became 16:13 lawyers without Law School 16:15 seem to support positions that a 16:17 modern-day libertarian or someone who 16:19 hasn't spent all their life 16:21 in a government-run 16:24 backed funded law school or college 16:27 would modernly it seems like they don't 16:30 tow the party line it seems like they 16:32 always move towards more freedom and 16:35 less government just an interesting 16:36 observation now the next one that I have 16:39 that's super famous is Abraham Lincoln 16:41 so Abraham Lincoln's a really 16:43 interesting character he was dirt poor 16:45 he had zero education and I believe he 16:47 wrote like with a piece of coal or 16:49 something on the back of the shovel 16:51 I think a couple times a year people 16:53 would come to his village or town when 16:56 he was a kid 16:58 he was born in actually hodginville 17:01 Kentucky so everybody thinks he's from 17:02 Illinois it's not true 17:05 his Jon Stewart a Springfield attorney 17:08 encouraged him to study law and loaned 17:11 him some law books 17:12 he never went to law school 17:15 or and he never read law under a judge 17:18 or a lawyer he didn't do any of that so 17:20 no I'm not like Abraham Lincoln I 17:22 actually studied under judges and 17:24 lawyers 17:26 excuse me 17:28 so he read the law by himself 17:31 he became a lawyer 17:34 and he was required to obtain a 17:37 certificate 17:39 in order to be a good moral character 17:42 from a judge 17:44 and 17:46 a stamp and once he got that 17:49 he was able to use that to travel 17:54 and get get passed into the bar. 17:57 And then he traveled 17:59 back West in order to practice law he 18:04 became what's called a prairie lawyer 18:06 and he ultimately became the president 18:08 of the United States. One of the things 18:10 that he has over me is in his 18:13 famous quote, tact means the ability to 18:16 describe others as they see themselves. 18:18 So, 18:20 um I'm not too good at that but 18:23 he was famous for freeing the slaves 18:25 suspending the right of habeas corpus 18:27 which clearly was a violation of the 18:29 Constitution and the U.S Supreme Court 18:31 found that suspending the habeas corpus 18:33 was a violation of the U.S Constitution. 18:37 And he instituted martial law in 18:40 violation of the U.S Constitution. And he 18:42 also installed unelected Southern state 18:44 judges and state representatives to pass 18:47 laws in order to restrict those states 18:50 rights who were in the Confederate 18:52 States. 18:53 Stage actor John Wilkes Booth 18:57 assassinated him but it says "her." So I 19:00 need to fix that obviously. 19:02 So that's pretty much that as far as a 19:07 list of famous lawyers who became 19:10 lawyers without law school with a little 19:12 bit of narrative about 19:14 how things have changed 19:17 and 19:18 also a word of encouragement to all of 19:21 those of you who are on a law reader 19:25 type program or are in states where you 19:29 can't get on one 19:31 you know California believe it or not 19:34 has the best law study program there is 19:37 and of course that was instituted under 19:40 a previous administration in government 19:42 years ago basically they just carried on 19:45 the common law tradition so 19:48 you know good on them for not 19:50 eliminating the program because free 19:52 thinkers like me wouldn't have been able 19:55 to become lawyers 19:57 um 19:58 you know because I was a business owner 20:00 on several businesses and basically a 20:04 self-educated guy and a disabled Marine 20:08 so it gave me a chance to work full-time 20:12 be able to support myself and volunteer 20:16 my time as an apprentice without 20:19 charging anybody 20:21 so 20:22 all I can say to all of you guys is 20:25 we don't Promise You a Rose Garden in 20:28 the Marine Corps or in life and if you 20:30 want to become a lawyer it's going to be 20:32 based on Merit in hard work 20:36 doesn't have anything to do so stop 20:38 trying to pretend like you're a victim 20:40 stop trying to tell other people that 20:41 they're your oppressor and get out there 20:43 and make it happen for yourself 20:46 nobody is standing there to give you any 20:48 special favors in life and the only way 20:51 you can get what you want is to go out 20:52 there and make it happen you can Ally 20:55 yourselves with other people who think 20:57 like you who won't judge you based upon 20:59 some esoteric situation, and will judge 21:02 you based on your character and your 21:04 character alone and that's it I hope you 21:06 guys all have a great day Semper Fidelis.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.