Articles by Janelle Orsi

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Worth the Read: Belva Lockwood’s “My Efforts to Become a Lawyer”

Belva A. Lockwood I discovered a new hero tonight, and it’s not just because Belva Lockwood advocated in the 1860s for the notion that girls should be taught to roller skate. Lockwood was one of this country’s first woman lawyers, and the first woman to be admitted to practice under and argue before the U.S. Supreme Court.  My partner was reading a history book about Lockwood, CA this [...]

This. Is. [NOT.] Jeopardy. Thoughts On How to Write an Apprentice Exam

The first apprentice exam was all about housing cooperatives. One of the responsibilities of an attorney supervising legal apprentices in California is to administer an exam to apprentices once per month. When I sat down to write the first apprentice exam, it suddenly hit me that I had no idea what I was doing. “Pretend you are a Jeopardy contestant,” I told myself, “start with the answers, [...]

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps

Abraham Lincoln never went to law school; yet, he is one of the most celebrated lawyers in U.S. history. Society take note: Going to law school is not the only route to becoming a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer. In fact, becoming a lawyer by apprenticing may be an incredibly effective way to learn how to practice law. The apprenticeship route to becoming a lawyer makes the legal profession [...]