Yes. The truth is, few states allow applicants to skip any formal education. No states allow pure independent study like Abe Lincoln’s days, and a handful of states, including California, allow you to completely skip higher legal education classes. Below, I will differentiate between state law reader/apprenticeship programs, starting with requiring no undergrad diploma or law school courses.
COMMON TIPS FOR ALL APPRENTICE APPLICANTS – FINDING A LAWYER/JUDGE SPONSOR
This is the number one question we receive at our personal injury law firm daily, much to my staff’s consternation. How do I find a lawyer or judge to study law under? An established lawyer/judge or firm will not always be interested in training someone for free.
So finding a sponsoring attorney for help with this time-consuming and distracting study-teaching process means offering these mentors something more to make yourself a valuable, indispensable, loyal, reliable commodity. Think of yourself as an ancient Knights Templar Squire receiving tutelage in the arts of war and religious laws! You carry your knight’s lance for use in the joust.
As a legal apprentice, be prepared to carry your supervising judge or lawyer’s briefcase, laptop, easel, movie projector screen, case notes, files, and boxes of evidence. Be prepared to field parlays with insurance adjusters seeking arbitration with your knight, as he does battle with opposing counsel on the other line in furtherance of his duties to his king (his client). I would look to my leadership example as a Marine or biker club.
When I sought a Knight to squire under, I humbled myself in fealty, for although I may have had superiorities to these masters in some areas, they were offering me the stuff of legend. To become a holy crusader for my client’s rights and service before the bar, what greater calling can there be for those called? How you do that and remain in compliance with your state bar guidelines is up to you.
States Requiring No Undergrad or Law School Courses To Study Law In A Law Office
Only four U.S. states offer full lawyer apprenticeship programs (no law school required), including:
- California (No undergrad required),
- California Is Particularly Gracious Towards Gifted Individuals With No Undergrad
Of those few “reading law” states, only one doesn’t require an undergrad, California. However, California does waive this requirement; if the candidate demonstrates through a CLEP (Discussed below) test, they have the knowledge and skill to enroll. Contrary to misinformation online, West Virginia requires law school before entering their legal apprenticeship program.
- California Requires Legal Apprentices to Take and Pass the Dreaded Baby Bar Exam!
True, California requires each pupil to pass a First-Year Law Student’s Exam after a lawyer supervised study period. Even if you pass this “baby bar” exam, with its less than approximately 12% average pass rate, pundits claim you must attend an ABA law school.
Or you’ll risk failing the general bar examination, they say. Of all the programs, the only one Abe Lincoln and several other legal greats above could’ve studied law under is California’s Law Office Study Program (LOSP).
California Law Office Study Program Admission Requirements For Students With No College – Four Year Program
Abe Lincoln would have taken the CLEP, as he had zero basics, let alone higher legal education to speak of. That means only California and definitely not Illinois would have been his only avenue to the presidency.
Open to tutoring judge and attorney supervisors, California’s Law Office Study Program (“LOSP “) REQUIRES Several BASIC RULES For General Applicants With No College*
- Residents ONLY: This program exists for California residents only. (See PDF On Residency Proof Here).
- Pass The CLEP: California LOSP candidates must provide the Office of Admissions “Demonstrated equivalent intellectual achievement” proof of an AA or College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) certification. For LOSP candidates possessing at least “Two years of college work” (Which includes an AA degree), or higher, no CLEP exam passage is needed.
Common California LOSP Steps For All Applicants With Or Without College?
- LSAT: Not required.
- Meet Minimum Age: [Citation needed]
- Find Your Supervising Mentor: Applicants to LOSP must study under a lawyer or judge “admitted to the active practice of law in California and be in good standing for a minimum of five years.”
- Fee: $158 Registration fee. You must mail the State Bar your Notice of Intent to read law under your supervising attorney to the State Bar address indicated. A sometimes non-refundable $158 registration fee will be included with your Notice of Intent.
- Curriculum: You must transmit your outline or proposed course of instruction to the State Bar.
- 18 Hour Weekly Minimum/4 Years Study Period: 18 hours per week study in a law office (or judge’s chambers) during regular business hours for four years.
- 5 Hours Minimum Attorney Instruction Period: Of the above 18 hours, the attorney or judge must personally supervise the applicant at least five hours a week. (See Rules of the State Bar of California (Title 4, Division 1 Admissions Rules, Rule 4.29(A(1)(2)(3))(B)(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)).
Whether or not virtual meetings/study/personal supervision count as supervisory or independent study in a law office or judges chambers apparently depends on whether the court or law firm conducts business regularly online. Clearly, students cannot be studying law in open court, for example. We have reached out to Nathalie Hope, and I Hope she has the answer.
- Bi-Annual Reports and $105 Report Fees: You must submit bi-annual progress reports to the California State Bar along with a $105 fee per report. (detailing what you studied).
- Monthy Attorney Exams: You must submit copies of your monthly exams to the State Bar. (Copies of attorney graded, written exams).
- Baby Bar Exam Application: An application to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination in June must be submitted by April 1. An application to take the examination in October must be submitted by August 1. Applications received after these deadlines and May 15 or September 15 are subject to a late fee. Applications are not accepted after those dates. (See PDF)
- Pass The Baby Bar Exam: California requires “law readers” to take and pass the First-Year Law Students Exam (FYLSX) (aka “Baby Bar Exam”) within the first three (3) attempts. (known as the infamous “Baby Bar.”) (covering contracts, torts, criminal law essays, and Multiple Choice questions. This test is given each year in June and October at test centers in California designated by the State Bar). Next, the Bar Candidate must, However, in that case, he or she will only receive credit for law office study for the first year and not for the study when retaking the Baby Bar the previous three (3) attempts.
- General Bar Exam Application: Rule 4.61 Applications for the California Bar Examination: (A)Applications for the California Bar Examination are available March 1 for the July examination and October 1 for the February examination. An application must be submitted no later than April 1 for the July examination or November 1 for the February examination to avoid a late fee imposition. Applications received after these deadlines and by June 1 or January 1 are subject to late fees. Applications are not accepted after those dates.
- Pass The General Bar Exam: The California Bar Examination is given each year in February and July at test centers in California designated by the State Bar. (See PDF)
- CAVEAT! An applicant who must pass the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX) will not receive credit for any law study until the applicant passes the examination.
- CAVEAT: Third Try Must pass baby Bar? An applicant ….does not pass … within three consecutive administrations . . . but … subsequently passes … will [only] receive credit for … first year. Pass The Baby Bar Exam: California requires “law readers” to take and pass the California First-Year Law Student’s Exam (FYLSX), known as the infamous “Baby Bar,” and CAVEAT: All reports must include the Law Office Study Report cover sheet and must be submitted by certified mail with return receipt requested or delivered in-person to either the Los Angeles or San Francisco Office of Admissions. (Source – California State Bar Admissions).
LOSP And CLEP?
LOSP applicants without proof of two years or more college work must satisfy Cal Bar’s general education requirements before officially commencing law study. Student hopefuls must attain 50 or higher test scores on three College Board administered CLEP examination topics. (See Rule 4.25(A) of Cal Bar Admissions Rules, including California Business and Professions Code Section 6060(c)(1) et seq.)
What CLEP Topics Must I Study And Pass To Gain LOSP Acceptance?
Under the Composition and Literature category, you must take and pass the:
- College Composition, plus:
Two other examinations from the following subjects:
- Composition and Literature. (Humanities examination only)
- Foreign Languages.
- History and Social Science.
- Science and Mathematics.
Each exam corresponds to receiving full-year equivalent college courses (six semester hours each*) or four other examinations designed to correspond with semester courses (three semester hours each*)
Sending Your CLEP Scores to Cal Bar
Applicants seeking a general education evaluation to pursue law study under the Committee of Bar Examiners’ Law Office Study Program must instruct the College Board to send official score reports to the State Bar’s Office of Admissions in Los Angeles; 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515.
The score recipient code for the California State Bar Office of Admissions is 7165. Copies of informational brochures and registration forms are available at local colleges and universities or by contacting:
- The College Board; P.O. Box 6600; Princeton, NJ 08541-6600; 800-257-9558; www.collegeboard.com.
- Applicants should contact the College Board address above to receive their summary of credit recommendations for the CLEP Examinations and further information.
Follow the other steps above upon meeting the general education standards. Also, California offers a Certified Law Student Program (See below) (I co-chaired three trials doing this) and a Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) program certifying law students to provide attorney-supervised legal services. Find out how to apply here.
Q: What Are Some Important California LOSP Rules For Lawyers And Supervising Judges?
Answer: Under 4.29(B)(6), a judge or supervising lawyer may “… not personally supervise more than two applicants simultaneously.” (4.29(B)(6)).
Q: Certified Law Students – Different Rules For Different Supervising Lawyers?
- A: “Practical Training of Law Students” Program. (PTLS).
LOSP students can register as certified law students after passing their FYLSX (amounting to 270 hours of study). But enrollees must provide satisfactory proof the supervising lawyer or judge has taught them or is teaching them “Evidence and Civil Procedure courses.” Here is where you, the law-certified student, can play the role of attorney legally, with conditions.
Generally Permitted Student Student Activities:
- General Attorney Supervision: Certified law students can “… negotiate for and on behalf of the client …” (Ex: Negotiate with the liability insurance adjusted and learn case intake.)
- Direct Supervision: Appear on behalf of the client in depositions. (I learned evidence doing this kind of stuff).
- Direct Supervision: Appear on behalf of the client in any public trial, hearing, arbitration, or proceeding, or before any arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer, to the extent approved by such arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer. (I co-chaired three civil law cases using this procedure).
- No Attorney Supervision: Appear on behalf of a government agency in the prosecution of criminal actions classified as infractions or other such minor criminal offenses with a maximum penalty or a fine equal to the maximum fine for infractions in California, including any public trial: “(A) Subject to approval by the court … presiding at such public trial, and (B) … designated attorney has approved in writing … and is immediately available to attend the proceeding.” (No deputy, you can’t go golfing with the presiding judge today!) (See California Rules of Court, Rule 9.42 (d)(4)(A)(2)).
Agencies have different rules. For example, non-government employed lawyers may supervise no more than 5 students law students. But criminal prosecutors may supervise up to 25 certified law students. (See attached “Practical Training of Law Students Program Declaration by Supervising Attorney”).
Point of Special Interest: This rule may or may not abrogate State Bar Admissions Rule 4.29(B)(6), allowing only two students under attorney supervision concerning certain practical tasks beyond reading law.
What Are Some Tips For California LOSP Supervising Judges And Lawyers
- How Do I Develop A Curriculum For My LOSP Pupil?
I receive calls from judges and lawyers constantly since Kim Kardashian made my LOSP famous. And these otherwise brilliant jurists are perplexed as to what they must do. I have many tips, which I will cover in later articles.
But if you are a serious mentor, you will provide lectures, send your student for any open lectures in law schools, like UWLA. For your PI lawyers, CAALA and CAOC is a great place to learn torts, evidence, and procedure. Immediately have your students reviewing PMBR audio lessons and order copies of released bar exams and baby bar exams.
That will make up the bulk of your testing materials. As far as testing goes, again, that will be up to the supervisor. My mentors preferred using released bar exams, including MCLEs, with me taking them over and over and over until I was smoking it! I also got my hands on some used BARBRI books.
What Are Some Important Learning Tips For California LOSP Apprentices?
- Order copies of every released model bar exam you can get your hands on.
- Obtain BARBI and PMBR materials.
- Contact Paul Pfau at Cal Bar Tutorial Review.
- Look for outlines of law students and learn to create outlines using these.
- Learn how to tackle the problem-solving speed exam known as the FYLSX and General Bar Exam over the next four years.
Do Exempt FYLSX Takers Skew LOSP Pass Rates To Appear Lower?
Maybe. Under Rule 4.57, certain applicants exempt from taking the baby bar can still take the FYLSX with no adverse effect on their taking the General Exam, pass or fail. (There may be disparities between LOSP pass rates taking the FYLSX and exempt applicants taking the exam. So the actual pass rates of LOSP grads may never be publicly known)
- Why would exempt law students want to take an exam they don’t have to take?
Simple, the Baby bar actually covers contracts, torts, and criminal law. (to a lesser degree, it covers remedies and procedures). In other words, it can give you a good idea of your expected performance on the General Bar Exam and give you a small dry run.
What About Foreigners And LOSP?
Foreigners can also gain admission under certain conditions under Rule 4.30 (A),(B),(1),(2),(3) not personally supervise more than two applicants simultaneously.
2. Vermont Law Office Study (LOS) Admission Requirements For Students With No Law School (Bachelor’s Degree Required)
Vermont’s “Law Office Study Program” (LOS) generally requires four years apprenticing under a Vermont judge or attorney’s supervision, licensed not less than 3 years before the LOS Registrant commencing studies. (Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court Part II Rule 7, The Law Office Study Program).
“While formerly a Registrant was required to have completed three-fourths of the work required for a bachelor’s degree, Registrants are now required to have a bachelor’s degree. Registrants already in the program do not have to meet this new requirement, although the new rule will apply if a current Registrant leaves and reapplies to the program. The new rule also directs Registrants to study the subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Examination, as well as related Vermont law.” (See Examiner’s Notes – 900-000014 Rules of Admission p. 11 (09/2017)).
The Rules of Admission to the Bar of the Vermont Supreme Court, at Section 6(g) states that a registrant must study of law:
- (1) for a period of not less than four years within this state under the supervision of an attorney in practice in the state who has been admitted to practice before this Court not less than three years before the commencement of that study,
- (2) in any jurisdiction of the United States or common law jurisdiction in a law school approved by this Court which maintains a three-year course leading to a law degree. This means that one may become a practicing attorney in Vermont purely by apprenticeship and without setting foot in a law school.
LSAT: Not required.
Residents ONLY: [Citation needed]
Meet Minimum Age: [Citation needed]
Find Your Supervising Mentor: Registrants to LOS must study under a lawyer or judge “admitted to the active practice of law in California and be in good standing for a minimum of five years.”
*Satisfy Minimum Education Requirements: Before enrollment in Vermont’s LOS Program, a Registrant must possess a state-recognized bachelor’s degree from a college or university within the United States.
Before 2017, Vermont’s LOS was similar to California’s, using equity instead of a hard and fast rule.
Registrants must file their “Commencement Notice” within 30 days after beginning the LOS or switching study offices that include:
(A) the date that study began;
(B) the judge’s or attorney’s representation they personally investigated registrant’s moral character and fitness, and, that to the best of his or her knowledge, the Registrant meets good moral character and fitness requirements; and
(C) the supervising judge’s or attorney’s certification.
Registration Fees: [Citation needed]
Curriculum: LOS Program is designed to prepare a Registrant for general law practice.
“To ensure this purpose is met:
Registrant must carefully arrange with the supervising judge or attorney a systematic course of study to prepare the Registrant for the general practice of law, including, but not limited to, the subjects tested on the Uniform Bar Examination and related Vermont law; and
The supervising judge or attorney may, and is encouraged to, enlist the assistance of other judges and attorneys to provide the greatest breadth of experience and instruction to the Registrant.” [Emphasis].
- Four Years,
- Not less than 25 hours of study during a period of 7 consecutive days, or
- Not less than 30 hours of study during a period of 14 consecutive days; and
- A year of study means 12 calendar months and no less than 44 weeks of study pursued.
Six-Month Report General Requirements must be:
- In the form of an affidavit;
- Filed with the Board within 30 days of the expiration of the current, six-month study period;
- Signed by the Registrant/affiant;
- Accompanied by the “supervising judge’s or attorney’s certification that to the best of his or her knowledge, the report is accurate; and (v) filed in duplicate.”
Six Month Report Contents must:
- Include the number of weeks dedicated to studying under the LOS Program;
- Describe in detail the areas of study pursued, the tasks performed, and any other relevant study or work completed during the reporting period; and
- Outline the Registrant’s plan of study for the next reporting period.
Within 30 days of completing the LOS Program, the Registrant must file with the Board a signed completion notice with their last six-month report. (See Vermont Court Rules, Rules of Admission to the Vermont Supreme Court Bar, Rule 7).
Vermont offers the ability to get law study credit towards LOS
Subject to Court approval, the Board has the discretion to award up to 2 years credit towards the 4-year term if the Registrant’s prior legal studies satisfy the Board’s prior study requirements as follows:
- Satisfies the purpose of the LOS Program;
- It is recent and not stale; and
- Was acquired:
(A) from an Approved or non-Approved Law School, whether or not the Applicant has graduated;
(B) from a program in another U.S. jurisdiction, which the Registrant can demonstrate is substantially equivalent to the LOS Program; or
(C) through the study of law in a foreign, common-law jurisdiction if the Applicant has been admitted to the practice of law before a court of general jurisdiction.
3. Virginia Law Reader Program Admission Requirements For Students
With No Law School (Bachelor’s Degree Required)
No doubt, Virginia is the least friendly to all future law readers. Virginia’s official statements about law study can only be interpreted as disinterested and begrudging.
Enamored with the ABA’s one size fits all approach, the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners states:
“[t]he law reader program is intended to provide alternative legal education for people who, although otherwise qualified for admission to law school, are, because of various circumstances [mainly hardship], unable to take or complete a law school course of study. The program is not intended for persons who cannot, because of academic, aptitude, or other deficiencies, to obtain admission to an approved law school. The program is designed to supply, in combination, a theoretical, scholastic, and clinical experience. If approved, successful candidates will undergo three years of intensive apprenticeship under the supervision of a Virginia attorney.” [Emphasis] (Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended, Section 54.1-3926).
Virginia Patriots and Founding Fathers Who Would Be Likely Disqualified Modernly Under the Virginia Law Reader Program:
- Edmund Pendleton: (1721-1803) Even though he taught law to his nephews John Penn (signer of the Unanimous Declaration) and John Taylor (later U.S. Senator), modern VA would never allow Pendleton to enter their law reader program).
- Patrick Henry: (1736-1799) (Read Law alone)
- Thomas Jefferson: ( 1743-1826) Although Jefferson had an undergrad, he had no valid reason not to attend a law school based upon my understanding of the VA law reader guidelines.
- John Marshall: (1755-1835) (Read law in Virginia patriot, George Wythe’s law office)
- William Wirt: (1772-1834) This Virginia patriot and lawyer had no undergrad or law school. (Attorney General of the United States (AG). (1817-1829).
- Thomas Woodrow Wilson: (1856-1924) (Wilson dropped out of school. Virginia requires some form of hardship to avoid ABA controls).
- First Year. Law readers must pass the “Basic Legal Skills” exam covering:
- Basic Legal Skills.
- Civil Procedure I.
- Criminal Law and Procedure.
- Property, Real, and Personal. (1000 hours total work).
- Conflict of Laws.
- Constitutional Law.
- Corporations and Limited Liability Companies.
- Agency and Partnership.
- Uniform Commercial Code.
- Third Year.
- Equity (Remedies) and Procedure.
- Professional Responsibility.
- Domestic Relations.
- Wills, Estates, Trusts Probate.
- Virginia Civil Procedure.
- Personal Federal Income Tax. (Read More here).
- Residents ONLY: [Citation needed] Meet Minimum Age: [Citation needed]
- Find Your Supervising Mentor: No judges allowed, meaning Virginia hero Thomas Jefferson’s (became a lawyer with no law school) mentor, Judge Wythe, would have been BARRED unless he went back into private practice! Supervising attorneys must have been practicing Commonwealth Virginia law for 10 years minimum.
*Satisfy Minimum Education Requirements: Must have a bachelor’s degree.
- Send these items to the Board of Bar Examiners:
- The supervising attorney’s statement of eligibility.
- Undergraduate transcript.
- Proof of good moral character.
- Appear for an interview by the VA Board of Bar Examiners.
- Study Guidelines:
- 25 hours/week min.
- 18 hours min study during regular business hours in the supervising attorney’s office.
- 3 hours/week min personally supervised.
- 40 weeks per year min.
- At least three years unless the applicant attended an approved law school. (You can seek a formal petition for some law school credits).
- Abide by the Board’s three-year plan outlining your study each year.
- Pass the Virginia Bar Examiner’s oral evaluation each year unless the Board unless otherwise dictated.
- Examinations. All law readers shall:
- After each course, complete a written examination prepared, administered, and graded by the Supervising Attorney. The examination shall be answered without research, assistance, or reference to source materials during the examination. The examination shall not be based, in whole or in part, on prior bar examination questions;
- Annually, or at such other intervals as may be established by the Board, appear with the Supervising Attorney before the Board, or one or more of its members or designees, for an oral evaluation of the law reader’s progress. In its discretion, the Board may require the Supervising Attorney and the law reader to submit a written report in addition to or instead of any oral examination.
Certificates. In addition to the Supervising Attorney’s statement required by section (b)(5) of this rule, the Supervising Attorney shall submit, on forms provided by the Board of Bar Examiners:
- A quarterly certificate stating the number of hours the law reader studied each week, the number of hours spent by the Supervising Attorney in personal supervision each week, that the written examinations were administered as required, and that, in the opinion of the Supervising Attorney, the law reader is progressing satisfactorily; and
- After the law reader’s course of study, a certificate stating that the law reader has completed the prescribed length and course of study and, in the Supervising Attorney’s opinion, is qualified to take the bar examination and is competent to practice law. (Virginia Board of Bar Examiners Law Reader Program Rules and Regulations)
4. Washington State: (Clinical Law Program) [Undergrad Required]
Open to both judges and attorney supervisors; Law Office Study refers to Washington’s Law Clerk Program (Admission and Practice Rule 6); an LLM is not required. Washington’s program for apprentices identifies law readers as “clerks.” This particular state, unlike Virginia, goes to extra mile for students seeking the traditional bar entry method. The WA Bar maintains a volunteer board that establishes study standards.
They even assign a supervising lawyer-student liaison to help monitor student-attorney progress. Law apprentices must also receive employment by the lawyer’s Washington office they study law. I believe this extra guidance explains their high pass rate (67% last time, which is almost twice as high as ABA-accredited school graduates taking the bar exam).
Washington Rules for Admission:
- Undergrad Required: Apprentices must possess a bachelor’s degree.
- Employment: Apprentices must work full-time 32 hours/week minimum in supervising attorney offices or judge’s chambers. Applicants must do assignments covering practical law office work. (Applicants can seek a waiver requiring them to receive “employment”)
- Pay: I could find no rule about lawyers paying students, or vice versa.
- Fee: $2,000 annually.
- Letters: two letters of recommendation.
- Transcripts: Applicants must send in copies of their undergraduate transcripts.
- Rules for Supervisors
- Judges and Lawyers: These instructors must have been active and in good standing with the State Bar for 10 years, minimum having no discipline in the last 5 years.
- Rules for Apprentices:
- Study: 3 hours per week minimum under a direct judge or attorney supervision.
- Courses: Finish six courses per year for at least four years for no longer than six years. (Students can petition to receive law school attendance credit if it was an approved law school).
- Monthly Exams: Must be created by your supervising judge or attorney.
- Monthly Reports: Provide monthly bar reports with your monthly exams. (Your attorney must certify you received supervision and true study hours).
- Yearly Reports: Apprentices must provide the bar with book reports on jurisprudence annually.
- Annual Supervisor Evaluations: Your attorney must create and send the bar an annual evaluation.
- Rules Upon Program Completion: Your supervising judge or lawyer attorney must certify you have become qualified to sit for the bar exam and be competent to engage in law practice. (Washington State Court Rules, Admission and Practice Rules, Rule 6).
- “ . . . the applicant completed at least one academic year as a matriculated student in a full-time program or the equivalent in a part-time program at an approved law school and at the conclusion, thereof was eligible to continue in that school’s degree program…”;
- “. . . the applicant thereafter studied law in a law office or offices located within New York State under the supervision of one or more attorneys admitted to practice law in New York State, for such period of time as, together with the credit allowed according to this section for attendance in an approved law school, shall aggregate four years.” (Rules of the Court of Appeals for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law §520.4 (Study of Law in Law Office))
What Law Reader Programs Require At Least Some Law School?
Alaska: (Clerkship Program) (Bachelor’s Degree + One Year Min Law School Required)
Judges and lawyers can apply to mentor. Alaska offers a three-year program for prospective legal apprentices. In a nutshell, you must generally already have a bachelor’s degree, have completed law school in another state, or attended at least one year of law school. Alaska is a tough state to get law reader information. The information Alaska provides online remains confusing because Alaska has a paid Law Clerk Program (Must already be a lawyer), as well as a “Clerkship Program” for legal apprentices (Must have attended one year of law school in a state that recognized the school credentials or graduated from that law school). Alaska maintains a unified, centrally administered, state-funded judicial system.
Under Rules for Admissions at Rule 2 Section 3(b): “An individual shall also be eligible to take the bar examination as a general application if he/she (1) has … completed not less than one … year … at a law school … of the American Bar Association or the Association of American Law Schools, (2) has completed a clerkship program. . . .” Alaska maintains zero city, county, or borough courts. Alaska maintains four court levels, each having “differing powers, duties, and responsibilities.” (See Alaska Court System Guide for Prospective Law Clerks, July 1, 2020).
The University of Alaska administers Alaska’s law clerk study under AS 08.08.207.
- Age: Be 18 years or older.
- Undergrad: Have four years Bachelor’s degree other than Bachelor of Laws.
- Took One Year Law School Classes: One year or more attending ABA or Association of American Law Schools (ALS), or alternative school approved by the University of Alaska.
- Already Graduated A Non-Alaska Approved Law School.
- Obtain regular and full-time employment as a law clerk in a law firm under a 5 or more years licensed Alaskan attorney or in the office of an Alaskan judge in a court of record.
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- Completion of Clerkship: Clerks must pursue a course of study for three calendar years of at least 44 weeks each year, with a minimum each week of 35 hours of study
- Exams: Apprentices must be examined once per month
- Reports: Apprentices must submit their monthly certificate of compliance from the tutor with originals of all written examinations and answers given during the period reported to the examiners. If the certificates, together with the required attachments, are not filed timely with the university, no credit may be given for any default period.
Maine (Law Clerk Program) (Bachelor’s Degree + One Year Min Law School Required)
Judges need not apply to teach. Maine offers a twelve-month program for prospective legal apprentices. But don’t be fooled by the short, one-year rule.
Maine Bar Admission Rules at Rule 10(c)(5) provides:
“[Each applicant must] . . . complete two thirds … for graduation from a law school … received … provisional or final accreditation from the [ABA] by … completion of those requirements and then within 12 months … completion … study of law in the law office of an attorney in the active practice of law in the state of Maine continuously on a full-time basis for at least one year …”
This will generally mean that you must have completed one year of full-time law study at an ABA-approved law school before starting your Maine lawyer apprenticeship program.
- Compensation: [Citation needed]
- Undergrad Education: Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree
- Legal Education: Complete at least two-thirds of the requirements to graduate from an accredited law school.
- Fees: Application fees vary from $600-$900 depending upon current legal education and bar status in other states.
- Curriculum: Send a proposed course of study to the Maine Board of Bar Examiners. (Law Clerks; provided that the “attorney must, in advance, present the proposed course of study to the board for its approval and, at its conclusion, certify that the course, as approved, was completed.”)
- Study Period: Must begin studying law in the office of an active Maine attorney in good standing within 12 months of attending law school.
- Study Guidelines: Applicants must study continuously for at least one year.
- Course Completion: Your supervising attorney must certify you completed the course of study. (Maine Bar Admissions Rules, Rule 10(c))
- Registration: Law Clerks must register with the Board of Overseers of the Bar.
- CLEs: Law Clerks are exempt from complying with M. Bar R. 5 Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and fees until the clerkship is completed and applicants enter active practice or declared their inactive status. (See, e.g., Maine Bar Rule 4(c)(1).
New York: (Law Office Study) – [One Year Min Law School Required]
Judges need not apply to teach law in NY. New York is another one of those states that makes you wonder why the program exists at all. Like Alaska and Maine, New York requires that you complete one year of legal academic study at an ABA-approved law school before commencing a lawyer apprenticeship program. Like Maine, New York “Clerkship” applicants must already have attended an approved law school. Unlike Maine, this is a three-year or less program.
You must prove:
Even if you are already a practicing lawyer in another state, you may use this program to gain NY bar entry unless you went to an ABA school. Basic Course Outline:
- Compensation: [Citation needed]
- Eligibility: Must prove you attended at least 28 credit hours at a law school and you were in good standing (equals one-year law school credit) within 36 months of beginning law office studies.
- Age: NY bar applicants must be over 18 before beginning their law studies “clerkship.”
- Undergrad: [Citation needed] (We could find no rule requiring an undergrad).
- Registration: Your supervising attorney must send a certificate of commencement to the NY Court of Appeals. (with a “copy of the determination of the State Board of Law Examiners of the credit to which the applicant is entitled under subdivision (c) of this section.”)
- Curriculum: Be taught law by your supervising attorney(s) that corresponds with law school taught subjects.
- Study guidelines: Clerks must study law in New York. Clerks may only study in a law office under direct New York attorney supervision for three years, assuming you did one year only law school (during regular working hours). But if you attended more than one year of law school, your aggregate time will be shortened to correspond with four years total.
West Virginia: (Law Office Study) – (Non-ABA Law Degree + Three Years Apprenticing)
Judges need not apply to mentor pupils in WVA. West Virginia allows graduates of non-ABA-approved law schools to become members of the West Virginia Bar upon completing their three-year lawyer apprenticeship program.
“The applicant is a graduate of a non-ABA accredited law school . . .” (b) The applicant has completed three (3) years of law office and work in this state as a legal assistant or paralegal, under the supervision of an attorney or attorneys admitted to practice in West Virginia . . . .”
- The key to taking advantage of this provision is that you must be eligible to take the bar examination in your particular law school’s jurisdiction.
Eligibility: providing that all other requirements outlined in Rule 3.0, et seq., for admission to the bar examination are met, you must possess:
- Law Degree: You must possess an L.L.B. or J.D., or their equivalent from an ABA-approved law school.
- Undergrad: You must have a degree of A.B. or B.S., or higher from an accredited college or university, or ABA equivalent. (“… graduates of correspondence law courses, including law schools providing more than 50% of classes as Internet-based classes, shall not be eligible to take the West Virginia Bar Examination.”)
You must have passed the bar examination of another state, District of Columbia, commonwealth, or U.S. territory of the United States, and be admitted to law practice, or
- Be eligible to take the bar examination of the state your law school was located, and
- In-state: Must have completed three (3) years of law office study and work as a legal assistant or paralegal under the supervision of a duly admitted lawyer.
- Out of state: Applicant graduating from a non-ABA law school (approved by Examiners) may take the bar examination by completing 3 years of law office study in West Virginia. These applicants must become certified by at least 2 West Virginia attorneys; they possess the knowledge, competence, and good moral character. One of these two West Virginia attorneys must have actively supervised you for no less than six months.
Age: [Citation needed]
Fees: [Citation needed]
Every state bar will have its own moral character requirements, typically scrutinizing felonies and crimes of moral turpitude convictions. I would recommend contacting your local State Bar office of Admission. For questions concerning California, contact Nathalie Hope at the California State Bar Office of Admissions for further questions.
Are There Modern Benefits Of ABA-Accredited Law Schools?
Many pundits argue that:
- You must attend an ABA law school to get a job or practice law in another state.
- Reading for the law generally restricts your legal practice to the state you received your law license.
- ABA schools maintain reciprocal rights in many cases to become licensed in other ABA law school states. (Read more here).
- You won’t pass the Bar Exam unless you go to a tier-one law school, which is non-sense.
True, bar passage rates are lower for non-ABA schools, but ABA law school students will generally have parent-based financing, spending a lot of time taking Barbri and PMBR courses. Generally, these bar candidates don’t have jobs, kids, or low-income issues. We have no accurate statistics on many apprenticeship pass rates. For example, in California, people can take the FYLSX even if they are not apprenticing.
California also doesn’t publish Law Office Study pass rates anymore unless more than 11 test-takers exist. But I know first-hand that law school does little if anything to prepare students for the Bar Exam. Besides, ABA-accredited schools see more than their fair share of people failing the bar, with some never passing, EVER!
Can My Supervising Attorney Charge Me Money To Teach Me Law? Must I Work In Exchange For My Education?
Traditionally, students paid a fee to their Inn, and lawyers never paid law students. We must remember that apprenticeships evolved from trade “guilds” into an “inns” model. Law office study apprentices will likely never be as in demand as skilled labor, but as a whole, apprenticeships are trending up nationwide.
Can I Force My Supervising Attorney To Pay Me Teach Me The Law?
- Why Should a Mentor Pay to Teach a Pupil?
I can see zero logical reasons to make a mentor pay their pupil. Your lawyers and judge mentors are doing the pupil a favor. I begged and volunteered to work for free just for a shot at this lawyer, agreeing to teach me the law.
What about Foundations and Grants?
I am all for certified apprenticeship programs where donors or others can donate money. Some people, including single moms or people who own small businesses, seem like good candidates for loans and grants. But in the end, paying someone to receive training negates a large part of the value of sacrifice. Free stuff is not the solution.
- Does federal law generally require schools to pay students wages for their participation in vocational education programs? No. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the federal law governing minimum wages and overtime compensation. The FLSA does not apply where there is no employment relationship between the school district and the student. (Source).
- Marxist-View on Paying Legal Apprentices To Receive Legal Instruction: The modern leftist view is the legal apprentice must receive payment from their supervising master or tutoring scholar. Naturally, if this view takes hold, far fewer lawyers will be taking on an apprentice.
But what does the law say about being forced to pay someone and tutor them?
- The ABA Interpretations On Paying Legal Apprentices: The ABA rules prohibit simultaneous award of academic credit and pay. (See ABA Standards for Accreditation of Law Schools, Interpretation 305-3).
- Several State’s Views On Paying Students to Receive Legal Training: Also, each state has varying legal apprentice educational training guidelines, with some states requiring the attorney to pay the student, such as Washington, and other States refusing to allow the student to receive payment from their supervising attorney for their legal educations.
The United States currently has no clear guidelines over who must pay for technical instruction at registered apprenticeship programs. An apprenticeship can be expensive for employers. Most trades and companies providing services fully recover investment costs spent training apprentices. But it’s expensive, risky, and can take many years to know success or not. A U.S Department of Commerce study found apprenticeship programs may cost employers $250,000 per apprentice or more. (Costs changes based on program length and the apprentice’s and mentor’s wages, including tuition and equipment costs. Start-up costs are also heavy).
Growing a federally or state-recognized Law Study apprenticeship will require volunteerism, private and public investment. Our goal is to build a core of key stakeholding lawyers, judges, legislators, employers, and profession-based intermediaries. These will include high schools, colleges, universities, independent study programs, local, state, and federal agencies.
Are There Grants, Loans, Or Programs Legal Clerkship Apprentices?
Not that we could locate it. When using funds collected through the H-1B Visa Program, the U.S. Department of Labor is required by law to help American workers gain access to skills and high-quality jobs, but no mention is given to law study programs. Minorities, including low-income people studying law, could receive great aid, given the proven effectiveness of employment apprenticeship programs in the trades.
- The Federal Registered Apprentice Program: There is also a federal program designed to train tradesmen and certain professions, paying these mentees during their training.
- Registered apprentices can seek federal aid sources supporting classroom instruction, including:
- G.I. bill benefits,
- Training under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
- Title IV eligible certificate or degree programs (Ex: Pell grants, including direct loans. We were unable to locate any lawyers teaching students law on the program).
- Be self-disciplined: Developing study habits means doing things you will sometimes hate. My Senior Drill Instructor, a Force Reconnaissance Marine, once told us about the SAS and how they would have recruits stand at attention for a whole day. He then said instructors were merely seeing if these men had the discipline to not move or itch their nose for an entire day with no food, restroom, or water. Learning not only to ignore but embrace jet aircraft noise, your roommate blasting the radio, or TV is part of being self-motivated. In other words, I can study law during an artillery barrage and pass the bar because I won’ wither under stress. Learning study methodology is far different than being motivated to study. Hiring an excellent tutor/life coach who can teach you time management and layering it on learning means passing the bar.
- SECURE Act: Tax-free 529 college savings plan withdrawals may be used to pay for registered apprenticeship programs, including up to $10,000 in certain student loan repayments. (Source).
GENERAL TIPS FOR LEGAL APPRENTICES READING LAW
Being a Marine, I don’t really consider this process difficult. It’s you putting your mind over matter. Having a sales background is helpful because you must know how to deal with rejection and setbacks. The training I received working for Family Fitness, LA Fitness (top in sales), and Bally’s Total Fitness helped me sell myself to supervising attorneys. It strengthened my knowledge of fitness and nutrition.
Staying healthy is crucial to studying and passing the Baby and General bar. And expect a drop in income, and beware just because fees and costs programs may be cheap compared to school, expect to put up to ten thousand into tutors (FYLSX in CA), study material, used and new books, bar review prep classes, and examination fees.
Besides having a mastery of the English language comprehension and a naturally inquisitive, analytical mind, you must:
- Learn to love reading and oratory: As discussed above, reading and comprehending English, including sentence structure, remains key to successful lawyering no matter your state’s domicile. My wife being Latina, has a harder time with English academia than native speakers like me. ESL students tend to have a harder time passing the bar, especially illogical English, with its hodgepodge of German, ancient Latin, French, Welch, and Gaelic language conglomeration. Even more challenging, even for native speakers, is that older cases and Blackstone’s works, for example, are almost impossible to understand or make sense of. Also, grab a law dictionary because you will need to learn complex legal terminology, not just concepts. The CLEP English reading composition with essay courses helped me a lot with comprehension. I am happy I did not waste time being politically brainwashed on a college campus run by flag burners.
- Finding yourself a mentor to train you is no walk in the park either. You have to want it. I just faxed people, called firms, offered to do filing or anything to get my foot in the door. I was fortunate that my first of several legal mentors, Jeff Price, sternly explained this would be a period not to have a car payment, not have a girlfriend, not a party (ever), and live exactly like a monk!
- Get your hands on bar study material: Check and see if your state releases model bar exams and answers. Grab every MBE book you can get. I went so far as to grab study aids, lecture notes from fellow students I knew in law school and their professors. (I found PMBR, audiotapes, BARBRI Big and Little Books, including Emanuel’s Strategies & Tactics for the MBE excellent study resources).
- Strength train at least three days per week and walk whenever you can. Muscle burns more than fat. Training like a bodybuilder will strengthen your joints, tendons, cartilage, and builds your upper rhomboids and trapezius, etc. The hours sitting, reading, and writing will take their toll unless you PT (Marinespeak for Physical Fitness). The confidence you feel from looking good is a bonus also. Staying healthy means being less exhausted when you study and maintaining the regimented life needed to develop the study habits to pass the bar exam.
- Go Paleo: Stay away from insulin spikes. You will see fat bodies in law school drinking Cokes, eating garbage. Don’t be that guy (or girl). Eat fruits, vegetables, protein, lots of fats, and snack on celery and peanut butter. No one wants to hire a fat body. Being overweight is a sign of laziness. People with self-confidence tend to stay in shape and be healthy. Make the time to take care of yourself physically and spiritually. You’re hired within the first six seconds. Don’t come out of law school a slob.
- You should receive legal training in the field you wish to practice law: Eventually, due to my litigation paralegal background, I landed several cool lawyers to read law under, and I even got hired for side work due to the Inns like collegial relationships I developed for being a hard charger!
- Ride The Bus If You’re Poor and Build Character: I did not want to acquire debt to study law in a law office. So I sold my limousine business, pinched pennies, and worked the three to midnight shift at Home Depot, Marina del Rey, California, and rode the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus to get around town. I even slept on park Benches in Venice Beach, eating pork, beans and sometimes going hungry. I refused to seek any help from my family. My Marine Corps values dictated I *prove myself to myself. These are the places where you learn about the people you be representing once you pass the bar.
Don’t Seek To Blame Others For Your Failure.
Don’t enter the program if you are an excuse maker or have been programmed by others to blame others for your failure. If so, you’ll use excuses you learned on campus or on TV as a crutch in life to fail. No, this is a program for people rejecting these excuses.
- Don’t Expect to Make Money as a Legal Researcher, Law Clerk, or Legal Secretary Right Away.
Some people think they will just get hired right away by their supervising lawyer for side work if you can. Great! Although I attended the American Institute of Paralegal Studies and worked as a paralegal, the lawyers I worked for were not interested in training me in the law. I am telling you this because most lawyers with paralegals need them sometimes 10-12 hours a day.
If you are used to working long hours making $30-$60 per hour doing paralegal work, and have overhead, expect a drop in income and incurring compensatory debt. I sold my car and had little overhead. I realized girls would be disinterested in a broke law student, but boy, was I wrong. I was happy with part-time receptionist or file clerk work, or making discovery responses, focused on my studies and not a law office job.
Later, I quit my job at Home Depot after securing a reasonable schedule with my supervising attorney. Ultimately, I freelanced, sometimes making 15 grand a month, doing law and motion for lawyers I had met studying law in a law office.
My father used to say:
“I became wealthy even though I never finished school, not because I was educated in books, but because I was willing to do the manual labor and menial work no one else wanted to do.” – Paul Ehline.
- Don’t Flip Out Over Time:
Law schools typically last three years, with exceptions for part-time classes/schools. Students graduate with their JD, typically around in May (California). Next, these students will sit for the July Bar Exam. After students receive their pass or fail notice in November, they will know whether they need to study for the next bar exam.
However, under the LOSP in California, you must finish four years of tests, reports, supervised and independent study before receiving Bar Exam eligibility permission. You must bear in mind unless you start the program knowing ahead of time and pass the FYLSX per your plan, you won’t be in the law school-bar-exam assembly line.
Meeting the Bar’s test registration deadline means filing your papers at least about three months before the examination. If you are fortunate enough to avoid paying a late fee by completing your four years of law study in March, you can take the July bar exam. I personally did not care that it might take 12-18 months longer to practice law using LOSP. I was already making incredible amounts of money doing complex civil litigation.
- CLEP: Especially It Takes Longer With No Bachelor’s Degree, Deal With It: Studying for the CLEP and passing took me about 3 months. But it could take you longer.
- First California First-Year Law Student’s Exam (FYLSX): California apprentices reading law won’t receive credit for their first year of LOPS until after they pass the FYLSX. Like the general bar, bi-yearly test administration means you can only take it once every six months. Because of the notoriously low baby Bar pas rate, you could be on this program for years. So don’t rush into or gloss things over before considering the long-term implications.
How Do ABA Accredited Law School Pass Rates Compare With Non-ABA Accredited Schools?
I did not have time to sift through historic bar exam data for each state, but I did locate the nationwide bar pass rates for 2019. Below, I will make some passage rate comparisons between ABA students, non-ABA, and legal apprentice trained students.
What Are Some General Bar Exam Statistics?
- 2019 U.S. General Bar Exam Figure Totals
Total persons taking: 68,305
- 35% of 2019 examinees were repeaters
- 65% of 2019 examinees were first-time takers
- Total persons passing: 58%
- Total first-timers taking: 44,367
- Percentage of first-timers passing: 73%
Total repeaters taking: 23,938
- Percentage of repeaters passing: 32%
4% of 2019 examinees were non-ABA-approved law school grads
- Total non-ABA-approved law schools grads taking: 2,788
- Total percentage of non-ABA-approved law school graduates passing: 19%
ABA Repeaters 17,464 – 6,327 – 36% First-timers: 38,973 – 29,776 – 76% The above numbers show results for all bar test-takers (first time testers and others). These included figures for students attending ABA and non-ABA schools.
What Are The Available 2019 Law Reader Bar Exams Pass Rates?
- Alaska: No takers, no passers.
- Maine: No takers, no passers.
- NY: 7 took, 0 passed = 0% pass rate.
- Washington: 20 took, 8 passed = 40% pass rate.
- Virginia: 3 took, 0 passed = 0% pass rate.
- West VA: No takers, no passers.
- Vermont: 8 took, 4 passed = 50% pass rate.
LOSP Total for All Jurisdictions = 38 took, 12 passed = 32% pass rate. Of the 38 law readers/apprentices REPORTED having taken the 2019 bar exam, only 12 (32%) passed. Because California stopped reporting results with fewer than 11 test-takers in 2016, we can’t provide accurate statistics comparing state-accredited, non-accredited, and ABA-accredited law schools. But pre-2014-2o15 numbers show California LOSP grads with a 37% general bar pass rate. California Law Study Grad Pass Rates:
- 2014: 10 tested, 3 passed = 30% pass rate
- 2105: 3 tested, 2 passed = 67% pass rate.
When I took and passed the Baby Bar in 2005, I believe it carried less than an approximately 12% pass rate. I could also not locate any verifiable data regarding law apprentices who took or passed the bar exam.
What Are The Available 2019 Law School Grad Bar Exam Pass Rates?
According to the Committee of Bar Examiners:
- Non-ABA schools: 2,784 took, 514 passed = 18% pass rate.
- ABA law school: 56,437 took, 36,103 passed = 64% pass rate.
What Are Some Differences Between Modern English and North American Lawyers?
First of all, Brittain does not have different states with different educational requirements on the U.S. scale. An English legal practitioner must have good moral character and undergo some law office work or study before practicing law. Most American lawyers must only graduate from law school, pass the bar exam and a moral character test. England and Wales have two types of lawyers modernly.
- Solicitor Advocate.
Scotland has its own:
The united States only have:
Modern UK Barrister Defined:
Barristers in Scotland, Wales, and England evolved to handle court case representation in civil and criminal matters.
Can I Become An English Barrister With No Law School?
No. There is no do-it-yourself (DIY) law school in England. To enter law practice, Barristers in England and Wales and Scotland must graduate law school, complete and pass the Bar Course (formerly BPTC), complete one year of law office pupilage in a barristers’ chambers or other legal practice employers.
A solicitor is similar to a barrister, but traditionally they don’t advocate. These legal practitioners mostly try county court cases. Complex cases or higher value (£100,000 or above) are tried in the High Court, or appeals took on the Court of Appeal. Scottish solicitors and advocates have similarities and differences.
Can I Become A British Solicitor With No Law School?
Yes. Before 2021, you could become a solicitor several ways, with or without law school.
- GDL: Like the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, England offers a crash law degree for solicitors, the GDL. This course helps bring you up to the required standard in the seven core legal subjects typically taught in the first two years of an LLB. (Solicitors are similar in function to a U.S. Paralegal, but not the same)
- LPC: Internship: The most common way of qualifying is by undertaking a two-year training contract with a firm of solicitors.
In 2021 the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) “super exam” began, one exam taken at the start of a two-year work experience period and one upon completion, which replaced the GDL and LPC. Law students are no longer required to have a formal legal training contract to gain their required two years of legal work experience. Instead, students can paralegal under four different employers or seek work experience in a law clinic.
Distinguish Solicitor-Advocates: Solicitor advocacy in higher courts has evolved past the Courts and Legal Services Act of 1990. True, only a handful of solicitors acquired higher advocacy rights in 1994; they included important, senior figures. Scotland has its own version of solicitor advocate. (Source). Lawyers from common law countries can also be U.S. lawyers, a tradition carried over from our history.