Short History of the Cal Law Study Program

Jurist_JusticeThe California Law Office Study Program is one that has given many people that did not have the opportunity or situation to attend a formal law school a chance to serve their fellow citizens. The program, administered by the California Bar Association, is a way to make sure that qualified individuals have another way to gain experience to take the bar examination. This is the path followed by respected Los Angeles injury attorney Michael Ehline and could be the option for motivated, intelligent individuals determining their career path.

With California Bar Association-approved law schools running in the near $40,000 plus annual tuition rate, practical experience in a law firm or judge’s quarters can be advantageous. California is one of six states that allow for such a practice. The path, governed by California state law, is one that allows students with hands-on experience to take the bar exam and enter into their employ ready. If you have a sponsor willing to work with you and offer semi-annual reports to the state bar you are in business.

This program has roots in similar practices dating back to before the Republic. Early attorneys, such as Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln were self-taught, studying the law with little formal training. This allowed for the most dedicated to rise up through the ranks and become effective fighters in the courtroom. In the case of Lincoln, the rest is history.

The current law allows for dozens of qualified candidates to get through the doors each year. Determined through the most recent set of California guidelines passed in 2007, you too can follow the footsteps of those that wish to make something of their life and not be restricted.

California Bar Examination Statistics

Attorney Michael Ehline
Attorney Michael Ehline

The California Bar Examination is one of the steps to becoming an attorney in the state, and perhaps the most important. It is sometimes considered the most difficult exam in the country and has a high failure rate. Those that pass are often some of the best lawyers. The exam process is arduous but makes sure that only the most tenacious get through.

There are several ways that a student can become qualified to take the bar exam. They can be an attorney from another state, receive a J.D. from an accredited school, or go through the Law Office Study Program. No matter how you do it, there is a tremendous amount of studying and work that goes into the process.

When you take the bar exam, you are now taking a multi-stage test proctored over eighteen hours and three days. During the course of this test you will answer questions about various parts of the law, including 13 subject areas. The exam taxes the student and is fiercely guarded.

According to February 2013 statistics, it is a sobering experience. Just 41% of all exam takers passed the test. Just over 52% of those trying for the first time passed the exam, but those that took it several times were in worse shape. Only 36% of those that took it multiple times passed the exam. Some rates in the recent past have been higher, but some have been significantly lower. An attorney that passed the California bar exam certainly earned their qualifications.

Becoming an Attorney in California

Attorney Michael Ehline
Attorney Michael Ehline

If you have decided to join the ranks of attorneys in the state of California, there are several options out there for you to become admitted to the bar. While many follow the strict path of attending law school, it is not your only option. In fact, with proper wherewithal you can make it work through a road that works with your schedule and lifestyle.

Many attorneys become admitted to the bar after they have completed generally three years of law school and receive a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.). After this a qualified candidate will have to pass the bar examination. While a JD may be advantageous, it is not your only option. Attorneys from other states are able to take the bar exam if they are already members of another state’s bar. Candidates must also pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination to ensure their moral character. The State of California allows other ways for qualified individuals to serve their communities by becoming an attorney.

Law Office Study Program

Others are able to do so by gaining hands-on experience in a Law Office Study Program. California law states that anyone wishing to become an attorney should have four years experience in the legal field and pass the bar exam. If you have no legal background you may enter into the program. Some students are accepted that do not have formal college training. In this case a candidate can take the College Level Examination Program.

A candidate in the Law Office Study Program must study under a judge or attorney for four years to be eligible to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination, sometimes referred to as the “Baby Bar.” If a student passes the First Year Law Students’ Examination within three tries, they are now set to take the California Bar Exam. The California bar is no easy matter and often separates the wheat from the chaff and makes sure that only the best candidates make it to practice law in the state.


Kim Nguyen Wants to Know How to Become a Lawyer With No Law Degree

Below is a comment from Kim Nguyen. Most of her questions were already answered in the original post of how to become a lawyer with no law school. However, I will see what I can do about answering

Dear Michael,

My name is Kim Nguyen, I read your blog I am extremely interested in becoming a lawyer without attending law school and be enrolled in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program. I also read that there was only 80 students who enrolled in this program. Just a little about me, I graduated HS in 2003 and started my career in real estate in 2004 so that I would be able to afford my college tuition and not be completely broke after I graduated college. And I was unwilling to trade my time to get paid only $7/ an hour. After my first year of Real estate I liked it so much and put my schooling in the back burner. I got my Broker’s license in January 2008 and opened my own real estate corporation in August 2008. I still have a passion for law and want to still become a lawyer one day. I ran into your blog and was really excited about this program. I have browsed through the California Bar and wanted to see if you can help me do what you did. I appreciate you reading my letter, and look forward to hearing from you.

My Response: Honestly, most everything is already in the original blog. As far as helping you do what I did, all I can do is give you a firm statement and example that you can do it. Yes you can.

In order to be on the LOSP, you need a lawyer to teach you who has been in practice at least 5 years. I am only in about 4 years, so I simply cannot teach you.

I read on your blog that I would have to contact the lawyer in the field of law that I want to be in.

Does the lawyer who I study under only needs to have 5 years of experience? Is there any other requirements?

If the lawyer who is willing to help me with this program does not have any experience can he/she still do it?

How do I take the CLEP exam ?

Once I pass that how many hours in a month must I study with the lawyer? Are there specific tests that the lawyer must adminstered to submitt to the California Bar. If so how where can we get this information?

Thanks for your help.

You don’t need to contact a lawyer in the field you want to be in, unless that is what you want to do. You can study under any qualified lawyer.

To take the CLEP, I recommend you get a crash course such as Barrons, and then take it ASAP, unless you already have a BA, BS, or equivalent.

Yes I believe it was 18 hours per week of actual study and 6 hours required in the presence of the lawyer.

As far as tests go, the lawyer has to create the tests. There are no canned tests.

How to Become a Lawyer with no Law School.

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