Taking the Bar Exam Without Going to Law School

Well so far you know law school will be a full time effort, you will go into debt, and there is no guarantee that you will even have a job after graduating. Knowing all this, you will obviously question… is there a way to get around all the law school stress and still become in lawyer?

Well, in California and some other states, there are other ways to become a  lawyer.

One way to avoid expensive law school is to take a College Level Examination Program (CLEP). After you pass this examination program you need to pass the California First Year Law Student's Examination. When you are able to pass both of these examinations you can take the California Bar Examination within three years.

This process of avoiding law school is  often called “reading” for the law under an apprenticeship. In some of the states that accept reading law you may need to go to law school for a semester, but not for the full 3-4 years it usually takes. This will allow you to not go too far into debt, while also allowing you to have more freedom with your free time.

Of course, many people in the American Bar Association (ABA) do not believe in this kind of practice. The more people who do not go to law school, the less money they will make. Many states stopped recognizing “reading” for the law as a valid substitute for law school. If you plan on becoming a lawyer through this route you need to know which states accept this as valid. Even though you may be gaining more experience than other students in law school, you will not be recognized by the ABA.

There are currently only seven known states that will recognize and allow reading for the law without attending law school. They are: California, Virginia, Vermont, Maine, New York, Washington and Wyoming. There is not a high likelihood that many more states will start recognizing reading of the law. Due to pressure from the ABA and law schools, the majority of states force students to take ABA approved law schools and avoid much cheaper routes. This being said, before you begin reading law, know your restrictions well.