Question about lawschool and Bar exams...

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by TED, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. TED

    TED Millennium Member

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    I live in Alaska. There are no law schools here. Each state has its own bar association and its own bar exam which you must pass to be able to practice law in that state. Having graduated from law school is not enough by itself to practice law.

    This caused me to wonder whether or not it may be possible to not attend law school but rather study on my own and then take the bar exam for the state in which I want to practice law. I looked up Alaska's bar exam prerequisites and it does specifically state that an applicant for the bar exam must be a law school graduate.

    However, this may not be true of all states.

    Thus, the question is...

    Does anyone know of any states who do not require you to graduate law school in order to be eleigible to take the bar exam.

    I realize that the idea of studying on your own for a bar exam may seem laughable. However, in my case, it is within my capability and it seems an attractive option in comparison to 4 to 5 years of law school and a couple hundred thousand in debt.

    TED
     
  2. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

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    Who in their right mind would hire an attorney who hadn't gone to law school?
     

  3. Rabbi

    Rabbi The Bombdiggity Lifetime Member

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    There once was a time where you could "read law" (understudy) for a number of years and then take the Bar exam. No Law School needed. I'll bet that such a thing doesnt exist anymore. There also was a time you did not need an undergrad to get into Law School (or Medical School) Just a specified number of classes. I bet that IS still on the books in some places but you dont have a chance in hell of getting in without an undergrad.

    California is the only State that I know of that will let you do Law School online and then sit for the Bar exam. In Texas that wont fly.
     
  4. milglock707

    milglock707

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    Google "Reading the Law" which will give you a list of the 6 states this is allowed. However, I do not believe you could do this, not because you are not smart, but rather because you need to be trained to think like a lawyer. Also you must pass the MPRE before you can even sit for the bar.

    Yes, I went to law school, passed the bar, and am a lawyer.
     
  5. Ersatz

    Ersatz

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    If you're looking at spending a couple hundred thousand on law school and not graduating for 4-5 years, you're looking at the wrong law school.
     
  6. certifiedfunds

    certifiedfunds Cosmopolitan Bias

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    As of the mid 1990s one could most certainly still attend medical school without an bachelor's. IIRC, after the first year of med school was completed you were awarded your BS/BA.
     
  7. rd21

    rd21 Rationalist

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    Ted- I think you should probably do a little more research. For one thing, a full-time law student attends for only three years, not four or five. And while scholarships are not as widely available as for undergraduate study, there are many great state schools at which you can get a legal education for far less than $100,000.

    I'm sure you're a smart guy, and it doesn't take a genius to graduate law school, or to pass the bar exam in most states. However, as a law student myself, I can tell you that it's VERY different than anything you've ever studied before. It is NOT simply memorizing rules and laws. It requires mastering a number of specialized analytical skills, that require you to get "plugged in" to a couple hundred years worth of doctrinal development.

    Because of these reasons, no state will allow you to simply "study on your own" to take the bar. And even if they did, you (or anyone) would not be successful.

    However, as mentioned, some states do allow a modified form of "reading law," which essentially means serving out an extended "apprenticeship" under a licensed attorney. After a long period of time, usually at least 7 years, you will then be allowed to sit for the bar.

    But there are serious problems with "reading law." First of all, few attornies are willing to take on the extra responsibility of training an apprentice, when qualified legal assistants are readily available.

    Even if you did find an attorney willing to sponsor you, it is extremely unlikely that you would be exposed to everything you would need to know to pass the bar. Most attorneys focus their practices on only a few types of cases, but the bar exam will test you on every area of the law. Even a "general practitioner" wouldn't take enough diverse cases in a 7 year period to cover everything you needed. That means even after "reading law," you'd still need to take an expensive bar review course to cover the areas you missed.

    Finally, "reading law" is not as economical as you think. For seven years, you will be working full-time at a VERY low pay rate, if you get paid at all. You'd be out of law school in 3 years. That means four years of lost salary. If you make even just 60k per year out of law school, that means 240k in lost wages for that period, more than the cost of a Harvard JD, and WAY more than any state law school.

    On top of all that, law school provides many more benefits than a degree. If you go to law school in the area in which you'll practice, you'll build relationships with your colleagues and gain important contacts that will help build your practice in the future (referrals are big for anyone in private practice). You'll get free access to legal research services (a must for anyone studying the law-these are really expensive if you have to pay). You'll have a career services office, guest speakers, and many more resources. Most importantly, since the legal profession is all about argumentative practice, you'll learn better by engaging in debate and conversation with your fellow students and professors.

    I know it's intimidating, but if you're serious about becoming a lawyer, it's the only reasonable path. I'll be happy to answer any questions; PM me.
     
  8. Easterbrook

    Easterbrook Wagon Burner

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    I bet you could pass some state bar exams without going to law school. The Bar/Bri course is pretty thorough, and for the multistate portion at least, it's just a lot of memorization. Heck, it's multiple choice.

    Of course, the point is moot as I don't know anyone who's tried it, but I'm certain it could be done.

    As far as which states would allow non-law-school graduates to take their bar, I have no idea.

    And on another note, law school is only 3 years. If it takes you "4 to 5 years", you're doing it wrong.

    ETA: Looks like you could get admission to California w/o going to law school.

    http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/rules/Rules_Title4_Div1-Adm-Prac-Law.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
  9. c5367

    c5367 Esq.

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    As a recent JD, I can tell you that when people say there are too many lawyers in this country, they are absolutely right.
    The profession is largely oversaturated and unless have a degree from a top school and the network to go with it, you'll find the 6-figure investment a poor one.
     
  10. rd21

    rd21 Rationalist

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    I couldn't disagree with this more. Maybe if you've already been to law school, memorizing the rules is the hardest part, but it's not like the exam just asks you to state a law. The hard part is analyzing and applying the rules, and I doubt anyone could really be successful at that without some basic legal training.

    But the larger point is just that by skipping law school, you're skipping out on most of the resources and experiences that will make you a marketable and qualified attorney.

    Someone wisely pointed out that given the saturation of the legal profession, law school is not always a wise economic choice. As I discussed in my earlier post, if you DO want to be a lawyer, not going to law school would be a much worse economic decision.
     
  11. Rabbi

    Rabbi The Bombdiggity Lifetime Member

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    There are people who could learn it all in a week, take the test and ace it and then spend the next week learning all they needed to know to pass the Medical License exam.

    Make no mistake, while not very many, there are people that can learn awesome amounts in a very short time. They are just that gifted.
     
  12. rd21

    rd21 Rationalist

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    Northwestern California University School of Law is NOT accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), which means that a J.D. from that school will not be accepted by any other state than California.

    In fact, NO online law schools are ABA-approved. A JD from an unaccredited law school means you will be limited to practicing in one state, and even that privileged might be revoked if the state changes its standards.

    Not to mention you better be well-connected if you plan on trying to get a job with an online degree.
     
  13. ysr_racer

    ysr_racer

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    What's the difference between a dead lawyer in the street, and a dead snake in the street?

    The dead snake has skid marks in front of it where somebody tried to stop.
     
  14. Rabbi

    Rabbi The Bombdiggity Lifetime Member

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    You abviously have not run up against some mega talented people yet. They are out there. The things you find "hard" would be fodder for them. What you need training for, they could write the book on....without ever having done it.

    There are people out their who became brain surgeons because they needed a hobby after their time in Special Forces and then making millions in the business world.
     
  15. rd21

    rd21 Rationalist

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    So I guess you'll be representing yourself when you're forced to shoot a man who threatened your life?
     
  16. Easterbrook

    Easterbrook Wagon Burner

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    That's why Barbri gives you a whole crap load of practice questions from past multistate bar exams, to practice applying the law to questions.

    Heck, I just passed the Massachusetts bar exam, along with 90% of the other first time takers. That's right, 90% of first time takers passed. It's not that bad of a test.
     
  17. Rabbi

    Rabbi The Bombdiggity Lifetime Member

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    The other side of that is, most wise people wouldnt want a Lawyer who thought Law School was hard or imparted something special to them. I would much rather have the guy who already had talent...the kind you cant learn, and just went throught the somewhat tedious but required steps (law school) to apply that talent.

    Some people are already "good" they just have to walk through the hoops to apply that. While most people are working their butts off to get through those hoops and after all that hard work are still not all that talented, they are just now educated.

    Talent can not be learned or hung on the wall.
     
  18. Gdirty5

    Gdirty5

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    I know this doesn't directly relate to law school, but I honestly studied hard enough in 1 month of CRAMMING for my pharmacy boards (at least 12 hours a day of studying) to pass the test given just board prep type books I had. But did that make me know EVERYTHING, no. I would have passed my boards, but probably ended up killing people due to medication errors....
     
  19. Easterbrook

    Easterbrook Wagon Burner

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    Sure. The difference with studying for the bar is that you have much more than one month to study, and the course most people take, Barbri, offers classroom course preparation. So it's not just you sitting and reading on your own; instead you actually go to lectures everyday for about a month and a half to prepare you for the exam. Plus there's there's the outlines and studying materials, including thousands of practice questions, with explanations to help you.

    Furthermore, as I stated earlier, about 90% of first time takers pass, at least in Mass where I took it. How can people say it's this really tough exam when 90% of applicants pass it on their first try?