23 January 2008

Self-taught lawyers in America

Here is something I may have overlooked in lectures concerning how one becomes a lawyer in the United States. It appears that there are still states that allow people to teach themselves about the law. Put another way, there are states that do not require one to have a law degree to practice law. Here's how it generally works. The states of California, Maine, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming allow one to study in a law office (basically an apprenticeship) before sitting for the state bar exam. To be honest, I had no idea that these states still have this as an option. There is a long tradition of self-taught lawyers in the United States, Abraham Lincoln being probably the most famous, but as this article points out, they are a dying breed. Only 44 self-taught lawyers applied to take state bar exams in 2006, and of those only 18 passed (a 41% passage rate). Nationwide, the passage rate was 67%. Maybe going to school to study law isn't such a bad idea.