Getting You In. . . to Your Own Law School!
Normally, we’re writing about how to get you into a great law school. Today, we’re going to offer a slightly different perspective that most people have not heard about or truly given much consideration to: becoming a lawyer without actually attending law school (or at least not in the traditional sense). Granted, this is only possible in certain states right now and the practice is fairly heavily regulated; but, it might be a very good idea for those who can’t afford to pay for law school (most) and are understandably reticent to take on a couple hundred thousand dollars of high-interest, non-dischargeable. If programs like that could get some great success stories under their belts, it might help the movement to shorten law school or decrease the cost. These are all things that aspiring law students, current law students, and future law students would all surely appreciate.
I speak with tons of students every admissions cycle who are interested in going to law school in order to finish as rapidly as possible so that they can graduate, pass the bar, and work for their family law practice or the law practice of a close family member or friend. For those people, and for plenty of others, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go to law school for three years and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to begin doing something that they should be able to get a jump-start on now. Of course, it is incredibly important for people to make sure that the apprenticeship they would undertake is heavily regulated and involves taking pre-bar type tests to measure progress. States like California and Vermont have already instituted programs like this to make this possible for people.
The apprenticeship model (which has been used for centuries in some way or another) would help defray the cost of legal education and would train lawyers with the practical knowledge and experiences that will guide them down the road in their careers. In recognition of this, the ABA has commissioned reports like the MacCrate Report in 1992 and the Carnegie Report in 2007 that propound a view of legal education as a tripartite experience involving analytical, practical, and ethical experiences. Law schools have attempted to respond to the findings and recommendations of these prominent reports, but their reform efforts have simply not gone far enough to bridge the fundamental gap between legal education and practice.
For those of you who have connections and mentors in the legal world and are convinced you already know what you want to do, don’t sleep on the idea of practicing in one of these states that allows apprenticeship to replace one or more years of law school!
If you are considering doing this, and would like assistance finding a mentor (either in a formal sense or simply for advice about embarking on an unconventional path in your legal education), the InGenius Law School team has a wide breadth of experience in all sorts of different legal education and practice and would be glad to advise you in any capacity.