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 accessible to those who cannot afford the time and expense of law school, and offers innumerable other benefits to apprentices, supervising attorneys, and society.

Vermont, California, Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington all allow people to become lawyers by “reading the law,” meaning they study and apprentice in the office of a lawyer or judge, in lieu of going to law school. New York and Maine also allow this, but they require at least one or two years of law study in addition to the apprenticeship.

In California, for example, a person can become a lawyer by working and studying in the office of a lawyer or judge for 18 hours per week for four years. The supervising attorney must provide five hours of direct supervision per week, and must administer exams to the apprentice to test his or her learning. The apprentice and supervising attorney must register with and regularly send progress reports to the State Bar of California’s Law Office Study Program, describing such things as the study materials used. The apprentice must pass the First-Year Law Students exam, in addition to the regular bar exam.

This website will serve as a space to collect and share information, ideas, tips, and resources with others interested in the apprenticeship route, and to document the experiences of apprentices and supervising attorneys throughout their process.

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