Challenges Faced in Becoming a Lawyer Without Law School


Below is a recent e-mail from Latasha seeking information about the challenges in becoming a lawyer with no law school degree. I will respond at the end as best as I can. Obviously, this response is exclusive to California, as I have no real knowledge as to other state’s offering apprenticeship methods with respect to “reading for the law”.

Ms. Carter
to michael

Hi MIchael my name is Latasha Carter and I’m currently taking the CLEP test because I won’t (sic.) to be a lawyer its my dream and my goal to help change the world and fight for people who do not have a voice or the will to fight my area of practice that I am highly interested in is criminal defense but I also want to be a prosecutor.

My question for you is what are the challenges you faced becoming a lawyer without law school, can a laywer (sic.) be a prosecutor and a defense attorney is it possible, can a lawyer without a degree be just as successful as a lawyer with a degree, what study books can I read to prepare myself for the baby bar and the big bar.

Thank you , I know you get a lot of questions but this is something very dear to my heart I’ve never wanted something so much and to be a lawyer is something I have my heart set on
once again Thank you

Q: what are the challenges you faced becoming a lawyer without law school?

A: Let me qualify this a little. I became a lawyer with no law school degree. I was admitted into law school without having to take the LSAT because I had passed the Baby Bar with no formal legal education.

That having been said, the biggest challenge I had was the ordeal of having to clerk for an attorney and not get paid, and then working in a Home Depot. at night for 10 bucks an hour. Other challenges were all the naysayers who kept telling me how I would never get a job, that I couldn’t possibly be smart enough to pass the Bar with no law school degree, etc.

The funny thing is, I make more than those very same people who still work for firms like Lewis Blah Blah and Gibson Dunce and Blah Blah, so my revenge was proving them all wrong. There were more challenges, but being a Marine, it was nothing compared to basic training.

Q: can a laywer (sic.) be a prosecutor and a defense attorney?

A: Not simultaneously as far as I know. I think most City, District, State and Federal Prosecutors would not be too thrilled about a prosecutor defending alleged criminals. I am sure the State Bar would not be too thrilled either.

Q: can a lawyer without a degree be just as successful as a lawyer with a degree?

A: Absolutely. In fact, there are many famous people who became lawyers with no law school.

Q: what study books can I read to prepare myself for the baby bar and the big bar?

A: I used the Conviser Mini Review, the PMBR audio CD’s, West’s “In a Nuthshell”, and a few others I cant remember. But even more important, was seeing Paul Pfau at Cal Bar Tutorial Review. He was a life coach, not just a tutor. Don’t even waste your time with Bar Bri and what not. Just buy the books and learn the black letter law. Then see Pfau to learn how to write and spot issues. It’s a problem solving speed exam, so learn from the best.

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