By Christina Oatfield
“What? You can do that!? I’ve never heard of that before…”
“Yes, in California you can do that, really, yeah, I know, not that many people know about it. Lots of attorneys don’t even know about it.”
This is how many conversations go when I first meet people who ask me what I do and I explain that I’m an apprentice at a law firm as part of the California State Bar’s Law Office Study Program, which means that I’m becoming an attorney without going to any formal law school. While I’ve had pretty much this exact same conversation with so many people in my first year and three months as an independent study law student, I’m still not tired of it yet! This lack of awareness of this alternative route to becoming an attorney is part of what inspired my colleagues and I at my other place of work, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, to start this blog about it. We strongly believe that everyone considering law school should be aware of this other option for becoming an attorney in California and several other states, especially in this day and age of rising student debt and unemployment among recent college graduates and law school graduates, among other tough issues in the legal field. Hardly a week goes by without us reading about the crisis of the legal profession in the United States in the news somewhere.
It turns out that we’re not the only ones who want to spread the word about the apprenticeship route! Our friend Neetal Parekh, founder and lead writer of the social innovation blog innov8social, wrote this article about my unusual career path a few months ago. It includes some of my advice about how to decide whether this is the right path for one to take to become an attorney. Thanks Neetal!
Right now I’m studying for the First Year Law Students Exam, which I’ll take on June 25. Keep an eye out for another post or two from me about how the exam went. I’ll also be blogging in the future about the cutting edge work we do at my apprenticeship host firm, Katovich & Kassan Law Group, in Oakland.