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Becoming a Lawyer Without a Law Degree

There is a small population of people who have taken the Bar exam without stepping foot inside of a law school. How is this possible?

These unique individuals completed a legal apprenticeship rather than a J.D.

Only a handful of states offer legal apprenticeships known as “law office study”, and those who participate are called “law readers”. Those who choose to go along with this course of study avoid immense debt caused by high tuitions, and gain valuable experience as members of a law office. They get to work alongside great attorneys, have courtroom experience and learn how to work with clients.

Even though this seems like a wonderful escape from law school, there are challenges too. For example, many apprentices have trouble finding a person to mentor them, and competing for top law jobs with those who graduated from top law schools.

According to the New York Times, law readers made up 60 out of the 83,986 bar exam testers, which shows how rare this route of legal study is. They are also less likely to pass; roughly 28 % of law readers passed last year compared to 78% of law graduates who passed.

Which states allow law apprenticeships?

Law apprenticeships can be completed in Virginia, Washington, Vermont and California, and offer on-the-job training under a mentor.  New York, Maine, and Wyoming have apprenticeships, but must be combined with law school.

What do you think about the law apprenticeship alternative? Do you think it is better alone or in combination with law school?

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