Join us!

We’re looking for someone interested in becoming a lawyer without going to law school! More specifically, we’re looking for someone who is interested in becoming not just any type of lawyer, but a radical real estate lawyer. That means you’ re someone who wants to rethink real estate, dismantle private property, and return land to the commons. Apply here by March [...]

8 Tips for Taking on the Baby Bar (Like a Grownup)

Last month, I promised I’d be back with tips for the June First Year Law Students Exam. Here are some of the strategies I found useful when I was preparing back in 2014. Having just taken the July 2017 California bar exam, I can say most of these tips also apply to bar exam prep. Passing the First Year Law Students Exam, or “baby bar,” on schedule will allow you to continue accruing credit [...]

Reemergence of a Missing Legal Apprentice

It’s been three years since my last blog post, but I have reemerged momentarily to share some good news…I passed the July 2017 California bar exam!!! Passing the CA bar was a milestone for me personally, but equally so for the legal apprenticeship experiment we’re running here at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Of the four legal apprentices we have on staff, I was the first to [...]

National Lawyers Guild is Now Accepting Applicants for Tuition Free Law Study and Mentorship in the San Francisco Bay Area

By Steven DeCaprio, Association of Legal Apprentices // The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) has expanded their mentorship program to include opportunities for marginalized people to study law under the Law Office Study Program (LOSP), a tuition free alternative to law school. If you are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are interested in studying law under [...]

Becoming an Attorney Without Law School with the National Lawyers Guild

By Steven DeCaprio, Association of Legal Apprentices The Association of Legal Apprentices (ALA) has been working to create a Legal Apprentice Committee within the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF). This year I was granted the Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in order to focus on this work. Since we first approached the NLGSF about [...]

Advocating for Legal Apprenticeships in Oregon

It looks like the legal apprenticeship model is gaining momentum, even in places that don’t yet have their own law office study programs on the books! Benjamin Boyd, an Oregonian, reached out to the Oregon Board of Bar Examiners to provide comments on why creating a legal apprenticeship avenue to becoming an attorney would benefit individuals, the State, and existing attorneys. Read [...]

Announcing: The Association of Legal Apprentices

We’ve heard – and experienced – the need for more support for active and aspiring legal apprentices. So a handful of current and recently graduated apprentices are creating the Association of Legal Apprentices, an organization to advance access to the law through education, advocacy, and community-building for legal apprentices and alumni. We’re still in the forming stage, [...]

How to Pass the Bar by Steven DeCaprio

The following is a guest post by Steven DeCaprio, CEO and Founder of Land Action, who recently passed the California Bar Exam after completing the Law Office Study Program. The views and opinions are his and do no necessarily reflect the opinions of other contributors to this site. I thought I would share some of my realizations as I studied for the bar. Since I failed the Baby Bar and the State [...]

Amend the California Legal Apprentice Law

‘Tis the season to introduce legislation, so now is the time to plant a suggestion with California lawmakers to do a tune-up on the California Law Office Study Program (LOSP). A key goal of a tune-up is to enable a larger number of attorneys to mentor LOSP apprentices, to meet a growing demand for affordable and practice-based legal education. Business & Professions Code Section [...]

5 Ways to Make Learning a Festive Affair

One of the things I love about having apprentices is that it encourages us to cultivate a lively learning environment in everything we do. We’ve made short videos about a couple of the fun + educational things we do at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. One of those is our monthly Research Explosion Day (RED), when SELC staff and volunteers divvy up a list of bite-size research questions on [...]

How to Find a Mentor and Make the Pitch

By Omonigho Oiyemhonlan and Yassi Eskandari-Qajar About three years into SELC’s legal apprenticeship experiment, we’ve heard from dozens of local and online followers that the one thing standing in the way of their apprenticeship is finding a mentoring attorney. We hear you. The seven legal apprentices in our cohort have navigated similar difficulties, and we can all agree that it’s all [...]

Legal Apprenticeships & Social Change

An interview with Gary Blasi If you visit Echo Park today, you’ll find a radically different community than the one Gary Blasi lived in when he started his journey as a legal apprentice. The hipsters, mod cafes, and steady progress of displacement through gentrification hadn’t arrived. Rents were still affordable and families could live on one income. Just to give you some context, Blasi’s [...]

Narrowing the Justice Gap with the CA State Bar’s Law Office Study Program

Last year, the State Bar of California created a the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force, the purpose of which is to:  “analyze the reasons for the existing “justice gap,” to evaluate the role of the legal profession in addressing the crisis, to seek the input of groups who have been working to expand access to justice to understand what efforts have worked and which have not [...]

The People Who Don’t Go to Law School, Part 3: Growing the Farm Workers’ Movement

How do you create the country’s most historically successful farm workers union? A quick study of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers of America turns up a couple essential tools – bullhorns and an in-house legal team. Cesar Chavez helped catalyze one of the most successful non-violent social movements in US history, winning civil rights for farm workers and challenging the political [...]

Here Come 43 State Campaigns for Legal Apprenticeship

Most states still do not allow people to become lawyers via apprenticeship, and citizen advocacy can change this. A surge of interest in legal apprenticeships will likely drive this change, fueled by growing discontent with and within the legal profession and legal education. Whether you are a citizen who is concerned about access to legal services or an aspiring lawyer, I recommend that every [...]

The People Who Don’t Go To Law School, Part 2

The American Bar Association should do a study of people who don’t go to law school, so that we may learn about the ways in which our profession is missing out. What are the talents, ideas, life experiences, and perspectives that never make it down the narrow pathway through law school and into the profession? I’ve been meeting a remarkable number of people who say that they have seriously [...]

The Joys and Benefits of Mentoring Apprentices, Part 1

I am collecting a list of reasons that mentoring apprentices can be a wonderful thing for an attorney to do. The reasons reveal themselves to me over time, so I’m guessing that this will be the first post of many. Here are some of the joys and benefits: Being Part of a Community: Attorneys who mentor apprentices become part of a growing community of supervising attorneys and apprentices [...]

Lock Your Car or Someone Might Give You a Law Textbook

Future apprentices, take note: There is no shortage of law students and recent graduates who would be pleased to give you their textbooks and study guides. I asked some law student to forward my email requesting book donations, and SELC’s apprentices now have enough to fill the trunk and backseat of a medium sedan. We got some real gems – a few copies of Chemerinksy’s [...]

Ready? Get set! STUDY! Our Curriculum for the FYLSE

By Thea Chhun, Legal Apprentice  I’ve always loved and dreaded deadlines.  For us apprentices, we become eligible to take the First Year Law Student’s Exam (affectionately known as the Baby Bar) a year into the program.  So having that oh so far away FYLSE a year away made for a more…flexible… schedule.   We could play around with trying out law books, exploring different learning [...]

Report Back from First Year Law Students Exam

So I took the First Year Law Students Exam (FYLSE) in June and now, six months later, I’ve finally had enough time to recover from the trauma to write about it! Several attorneys had told me not to worry about the exam. They told me that if I made it to and through UC Berkeley, then I must be good enough at taking tests to pass the FYLSE. But I have to admit that, a week before the exam, [...]

Read this: How to Become a Lawyer Without Going to Law School

A new Shareable article by Cat Johnson does a great job explaining how and why to become a legal apprentice. My favorite quote (from our very own Chris Tittle) alludes to the powerful impact legal apprenticeships can have on our legal system: “Laws protect those who write and defend them. So, in a country where over 88 percent of lawyers are white, 70 percent are men, and 75 percent are [...]

Your Questions and Answers About Legal Apprenticeships

At SELC’s first Legal Apprenticeship Teach-In, over thirty participants discussed how legal apprenticeships will change legal education and the legal profession. Law students, law school graduates, attorneys, and prospective legal apprentices asked the SELC apprentices and company about the nitty gritty details, and made for an enriching conversation. In fact, soon after this discussion, one [...]

Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession through Legal Apprenticeships

Attorney Sushil Jacob advises clients at SELC’s Resilient Communities Legal Cafe, along with Thea Chhun, a legal apprentice at the Homeless Action Center. I recently had a conversation with a woman named Jimena who described her long-time dream of going to school. In her late 30s, Jimena works for a social justice organization while raising her children. She had been accepted into law [...]

The “Great Lawyers” Mostly Didn’t Go to Law School

Who in the world would think it a good idea to make a coloring book of “Great Lawyers?”  In any case, I found this coloring book on the sidewalk recently, and it’s worth mentioning, because among the lawyers who achieved the great honor of being in this coloring book, only a few had a typical law school education. Daniel Webster read the law in the office of a friend. Clarence [...]

Mix and Match Your Custom Legal Education

With apprentices, learning about fracking and air pollution in CA’s Central Valley. Today, President Obama made the bold suggestion that, in order to make legal education more affordable, law school could be reduced to two years, possibly followed by a year of apprenticeship or internship.  If they haven’t started discussing the idea already, I imagine that every state bar association [...]

Learning the Law in a Changing World

At SELC, we are dedicated to creating more just and resilient local economies. And increasingly, we are exploring what a more just and resilient practice of law might look like. SELC’s Wheel of Resilience A critical insight from the wider resilience movement is that we live in a world in transition. Institutions and ways of thinking that developed in the Industrial Age – including the [...]

Legal Service Organizations Meet the Legal Apprenticeship Movement

Throughout the U.S., legal services organizations are struggling to raise funds and meet demand for client services.  Meanwhile, aspiring lawyers are discouraged — by the rising cost of law school and poor job market ­– from pursing their dreams.  Sometimes, two problems can conspire with each other to find a solution. Legal service organizations and aspiring lawyers, you two [...]

The Apprentices Have a Torts Exam

At the moment, three apprentices, one aspiring apprentice, and two law students are taking a 17-question torts multiple choice exam. This is part of the requirement that CA participants in the Law Office Study Program take a monthly exam, administered by the supervising attorney.  The law students and aspiring apprentice are taking the exam for fun, for practice, and in a show of solidarity with [...]

The People Who Don’t Go To Law School

It’s striking to learn that only 55,760 people applied to law school this past year, while 83,400 people applied to law school in 2008. It’s also thought provoking, and worth contemplating: Who are the roughly 27,600 people who would have applied to law school this year if application rates had remained steady?  The latest ABA article on application rates quotes the Dean of [...]