Some of the notable names in history, such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson weren’t too thrilled about law school. They both chose the less walked the path of becoming a lawyer through apprenticeship. If you’re keen to follow in their footsteps, you can start by enrolling for a paralegal online course or degree.
The legal sector is both complex and delicate, and so you need a solid footing when venturing into it. Getting a paralegal degree lets you put some skin in the game. It gives you an entry point while arming you with the relevant skills and knowledge.
Uhm, how does that work?
Well, there’s a huge constraint that you should be aware of when trudging down this lane. Only four states, namely, Vermont, California, Washington, and Virginia, allow you to practice without attending law school. The states of Maine, Wyoming, and New Yorker insist on some law school experience.
However, they can allow you to substitute a year or two of law school with an apprenticeship. In these states, you get to become a law reader – an apprentice who studies under a practicing attorney for a fixed number of hours a week.
These requirements do vary from one state to the next, but all entail passing the “baby bar.” After a year as an apprentice, you will need to sit and pass the First-year law students’ examination for a chance to continue.
Getting a paralegal certification gets you through the door in the close-knit sectors. Understandably, most lawyers aren’t keen to take people under their wings as apprentices. Putting some skin in the game increases your chances of success and demonstrates your commitment.
How long does it take?
It will take you at least for years to realize your dream of becoming a lawyer even if you choose to skip law school. After passing the baby bar, you need an additional three years before you can take the Bar examination.
You must do the four-year apprenticeship continuously for all of the four years. During this time, you need to study at least 18 hours a week under the tutelage of a seasoned, certified lawyer in an accredited law office.
In addition to passing the Baby Bar, you need to be an individual with a high moral character, pass the Professional Responsibility Examination, before finally taking the bar examination.
Is it worth it?
Given that getting into a top law school is a super competitive, process and costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars, going down this road is an attractive alternative. However, you should know that you have the odds stacked against you from the get-go. Therefore, you need to work a little harder than the average law student who commits hundreds of hours to their studies.
This option is attractive to the rare individual who is keen to get a feel of the real world instead of being cooked up in the classroom. At 67 percent, the Washington state has the highest bar exam passing rate. The state provides law readers with extensive support as they go about their apprenticeships.
They have a volunteer network that monitors progress while setting study standards. Although only a handful of people choose to go down this road, the pass rate is almost as high as that in an ABA-accredited law school.