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Michael Ehline

A top-rated California injury attorney working at Ehline Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA

Lawyer teaches about states you can become a lawyer

States You Can Become A Lawyer Without Law School in 2023

Yes. The truth is, states you can become a lawyer without law school or an undergrad are few and far between. Few states allow applicants to skip any formal education. I am Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline. I do not presently teach students in the program, but you can go to to learn about this program and more about how I became a top injury lawyer in Los Angeles County, CA. Please DO NOT CALL MY LAW… Read More »States You Can Become A Lawyer Without Law School in 2023

List of Famous Americans Who Became A Lawyer Without College or Law School

When I first started law practice as a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, I noticed there was a lot of disinformation about Supreme Court Justices, senators, members of Congress, state representatives, and others who became lawyers without law school. Below, I have provided a complete breakdown of famous lawyers who became lawyers without a traditional academic degree from a law school. Here Is A Comprehensive List of Famous American Citizens who Apprenticed Reading Law Other famous lawyers besides Abraham… Read More »List of Famous Americans Who Became A Lawyer Without College or Law School

Common Law History of Becoming a Lawyer With No Law School

Michael Ehline at US DOT
Mike Ehline standing at door of The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the U.S. government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967. It is governed by the United States Secretary of Transportation. Wikipedia Address: 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC 20590 Hours: Closed ⋅ Opens 8AM Mon Phone: (202) 366-4000 Founder: United States Congress Founded: April 1, 1967 Jurisdiction: United States Officeholder: Elaine Chao (Cabinet Secretary)

I am Michael Ehline; I am an expert on Common Law History of Becoming a Lawyer With No Law School. Modernly, attending law school and securing your Juris Doctorate (JD) or law degree from an ABA or state-accredited law school will be a prerequisite before practicing law in most U.S. states. The UK, including its commonwealth, has a similar path. Although I studied law under the California State Bar Law Office Study Program guidelines, a handful of states have their versions of legal apprenticeships.

Some people think there are advantages to attending a traditional, costly law school if they can manage to survive during legal studies and its enormous, crushing student debt. No matter what, either way, there is no such thing as a quick law degree. No matter what, a minimum level of training will be needed.


Law schools were not even a thought. Clergy was the closest thing England had to lawyers by the time of Alfred the Great. Lay people or “commoners” were generally not law practitioners. Hence, there was no “common law” yet. Commoners, descended from Germanic barbarians, often resorted to trial by battle, self-help, and blood feuds to resolve legal disputes.

There was no such animal as a wrongful death lawsuit, for example. Ultimately these heathen leaders received education from church institutions, including law and history. Eventually, commoners practiced law using rules modified from former Canon law religious courts and the shire’s royal laws.

  • 527-565 – The Roman Emperor Justinian prohibited any clergyman from pleading in lay courts, whatever the nature of the cause: unless it was one in which he had a personal interest or his Church or monastery parish was involved. Despite this, western bishops turned a blind eye, their clerics influencing and even running royal, secular courts for hundreds of years. Besides, clergy was typically the only people who could read, write or conduct record-keeping for local public officials. The king’s scribes were often religious monks, for example.

557 A.D. – Middle Ages Ecclesiastical Legal Advocacy

In Western Europe, in the main, the Justinian interdict was ignored (See above). The clergyman became indispensable in all matters about the orderly transaction of public business because of his education, whether in the chanceries or the courts.

First Lawyers Had No Law School?

True, no law schools existed until well after the Church created our modern university system. Few people other than clergy educated in guilds or schools practiced law. Hence, same as today, educated lawyers monopolized legal jobs. Due to the Papal Bulls against owning a bible, let alone reading, the church controlled thought similar to how modern [politicized] social media has taken over modern “news” reporting/censoring.

People who were called cleric lawyers:

  • Proctors: If a party to action appeared by a proctor, the proctor represented the party.
  • Advocatus: But if the party had the assistance of an advocate, the party had to make a personal appearance in court, supported, aided, counseled, and advised by the advocate on all matters of law and procedure.

Hence, the ecclesiastical proctor remained similar to early mediaeval attornatus’ (see below), whereas advocates had similarities to a mediaeval pleader, forespeka, vorsprecher narrator. However, advocates could argue and not just repeat statements.

Mediaeval Proctor

The ecclesiastical proctor was a kind of “officer” appointed by the court or selected by the client to represent a party that empowered him to appear on its behalf and manage its cause. Under certain conditions, the same person could act both as a proctor and advocate in the same case for the same client.

Mediaeval Advocate

Contrary To English Shire Courts, Parties In Religious Courts Were Allowed Their Advocates Any party appearing in an ecclesiastical court, whether as plaintiff or defendant, could appear either in person or by counsel, professional or not. In some instances, the court might insist on the appearance of counsel for the party. The professional duties of an ecclesiastical advocate loosely resembled the Roman Imperial period advocate.

In mediaeval society, clergymen were practically the only people who possessed some of that general education and learning, which is necessary to present or plead a case intelligently and convincingly. But subsequently, a difference arose as to the propriety of clerics practicing law, the custom varying depending upon who was in charge.

Did Proctors Or Advocates Attend Law School?

No. There were no law schools. And they probably had no undergrad requirements. We do know when proctors were commissioned candidates, and they had to pass through an apprenticeship.

  • Moral Character Rules – Genesis

Our secular moral character requirements are inherited from sixth-century ethics rules and standards. A cursory inspection of the Corpus Juris Civils of Justinian, especially of the Codex, shows the massive extent to which lawyers’ ecclesiastical regulations were dependent on Roman law. (Cf. Chroust. The Legal Profession in Ancient Imperial Rome, 30 NOTRE DAME LAW. 521, 579 (1955)).

Several provisions and rules existed regarding the supervision and discipline of proctors. They were to display restrained and dignified conduct in the presence of the court, refraining from “loud speech and babbling, and behave themselves quietly and modestly.(Could not buy the litigation, acquire an interest in the case, demand an excessive fee, or betray their client’s confidence to their party in opposite).

  • 1230: One title is based on the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX, published around 1230, which includes Pope Gregory the Great of 596’s regulation, one from Pope Alexander III (1159-1181), one by Pope Clement III (1187-1191), four by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216), and two of Pope Honorius I (1216-1227). Six more were issued by Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241).
  • Circa 1298: Pope Boniface VIII’s Sixth Book of the Decretals followed Roman law, modified or expanded by Papal Decretals (decrees), Church Councils, or bishop/court created local statutes.

Compare Early Germanic Secular Courts – Rarely Recognized Another’s Right To Advocate

In a nutshell, Germanic peoples and their early Anglo-Saxon ancestors had no use for what we now call lawyers. These were warrior societies. “…every man ought to fight his own battles, using his hands or tongue as the occasion required.” (Id at 539). They looked down upon accusers refusing to litigate, arbitrate and face death for making accusations during their parliamentary courts, called the “Thing” or “Althing.”

During the arbitration, the accused and accuser might engage in trial by battle, the surviving victor being innocent of all charges. It appears that ancient courts relied upon a lawman to recite the law.

But this person did not advocate and was typically someone belonging to the king’s court. Modern scholars believe many German tribes were outlaws who either fled Scandinavia or were banished. (Source) (See also). The 5th and 6th Century German invasions of Western Europe saw the end of the once highly developed, prosperous Roman legal profession. (See Chroust, The Legal Profession in Ancient Imperial Rome, 30 NOTRE DAME LAW. 521 (1955); Chroust, The Legal Profession in Ancient Republican Rome, 30 NOTRE DAME LAW. 97 (1954); Chroust, Legal Education in Ancient Rome, 7 J. LEGAL ED. 509 (1955)).

These tribes, including the earlier-ancient Romans before them, had no attorney-client advocacy system, mainly because no concept of legal “agency” existed. (acting on another’s behalf in law.

Early Orators In Legal Causes Were The Closest Thing We Had To Secular Lawyers?

  • The Rise of The Vorsprecher

Germanic tribes allowed an accused, their professional orator, or Vorsprecher, to speak “their words” during court.(Vorsprecher, forespreca, furisprecho, redesman rechtsprecher, spruchman, rechtsager, asega, eosago, sagibaro, talman, prolocutor, or plain “mouth-piece”). A Vorsprecher was not trained in the law, nor was he allowed to advocate. He was to appear [often as a professional orator] to narrate their version of the facts.

But some Germanic kings vested others acting in their own interests with the right of representation by an advocate. It seems German tribes insultingly called these legal pleaders “criers.” (Latin: Clamatores). But anyone could be your Vorsprecher, even the judge deciding the case against you. No legal training was required because no advocacy was allowed unless you were the king’s Vorsprecher. (Vorsprecher‘s were great orators and storytellers, often becoming great leaders).

  • Distinguish Vorsprecher With Scandinavian “Lagman”

At first, lawspeakers/lagmen represented the people, and their duties and authority were connected to the assemblies (things). For most of the last thousand years, however, they were part of the king’s administration. A lawspeaker or lawman (Swedish: Lagman, Old Swedish: laghmaþer or Laghman, Danish: lovsigemand, Norwegian: Lagman, Icelandic: lög(sögu)maður, Faroese: løgmaður, Finnish: laamanni, Greenlandic: inatsitinuk) is a unique Scandinavian legal office. It has its basis in a common Germanic oral tradition, where wise people were asked to recite the law. The lawman’s function evolved into a legal office.

Germanic Tribes Become Anglo-Saxons Settling Britania

During this period, around the 5th century, Voumllkerwanderung tribes, including those formerly residing in Germany’s Angles and Saxony, settled part of Brittain, ultimately becoming Anglo-Saxons. (But other tribes mixed, including Goths, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Lombards, Suebi, Frisii, and Franks).

  • Lack of Stable Laws = Social Instability

However, Nordic people’s preferring poetry and oral histories over a more superior written system of stable laws with professional clerks, courts, and advocates weren’t progressing society forward. Ancient England was far from being a unified society under such an unstable, Spartan-like system.

“It is an old axiom that a true legal profession – a class of trained and professionally acting experts who are conscious of their expertness and, hence, of their peculiar status within a given society – cannot possibly be found until there exists something like a fairly distinct and stable body of laws, a somewhat settled jurisdiction with regular courts handled by experts, and a fairly consistent legal procedure.” (Anton-Hermann Chroust, Legal Profession during the Middle Ages: The Emergence of the English Lawyer Before 1400, 31 Notre Dame L. Rev. 537 (1956).)

Ultimately, as laymen were admitted to the bar, these “commoners” practiced what is modernly “common law.”

813 AD – Council of Mainz

  • Clerics and monastics were again prohibited from actively participating in a secular lawsuit, except when involving Church or a Church interest or defending orphans or widows.

871 AD – Enter Alfred The Great

Ultimately, especially after the accession of Alfred the Great (Viking slayer) (871), the realm developed established rules similar to traditions inherited from wandering Germanic tribes. The Doom Book, Dōmbōc, Code of Alfred, or Legal Code of Ælfred the Great was the code of laws (“dooms” were laws or judgments) compiled by Alfred the Great. Alfred codified three previous Saxon codes:

Alfred prefixed the Ten Commandments of Moses. He even incorporated Mosaic Code rules of life into a Christian code of ethics. The History Channel smash hit mini-series, Vikings loosely bases some true history about Alfred’s desire to learn history and benevolence during Ragnar’s conquests. For example, some crimes were monetarily compensable concerning victim restitution. But there were still no lawyers, as we call them today.

1066 AD – Enter William the Norman Conquerer

After the successful King William’s 1066 Norman invasion of Britania, things dramatically changed for legal professionals. Our American common law system can be seen as a fusion between:

  • Barbaric Germanic traditions,
  • Franco-Nordic laws (Norman Conquest)
  • Laypersons entering legal practice/advocacy after the 13th century.

William, I brought efficient legal administration at speeds only dreamed of by King Alfred. He was heavily reliant upon court clerks and chroniclers, establishing the first English Census. We must remember that the Normans were French-speaking descendants of Danish-Norwegian Vikings, raiding and settling France’s western coast. These barbarians ultimately absorbed Christianity, with its more refined Holy Roman clerical and legal systems.

  • Fusion of Anglo-Saxon-Norman-Papal-Law

But Norman custom was not simply transplanted into England; upon its arrival, an emerging new body of rules based on local conditions materialized. Elements of King Alfred’s burgeoning Anglo-Saxon system surviving the “Invasion” included the jury, ordeals (trials by testing physical strength or by “battle”), and outlawry (banishing a person beyond the protection of the law or exiling them).

  • Commoners were not allowed to practice law, as they were not clergy. The king’s roving secular courts had not yet conflicted as they would in later papal power struggles.

Normans maintained the use of writs (orders mandating someone to appear at a court; see also, The development of a centralized judiciary). We must always remember that priestly study was among the highest status education one could receive. Only men of God could read, and the church prohibited the private ownership of Bibles. Ecclesiastical law and papal canons needed interpreting.

Even the Holy Templar Knights (Knights with banks, lands, titles, and money needing management and legal protection) maintained their own priestly house counsel, as it were.

No English Common Law Existed?

True. England had no professional, commoner lawyers or judges; instead, literate clergymen administered, some familiar with Roman law and the canon law. During this period, the Christian church developed the universities of the 12th century. Before the Reformation, mediaeval Roman Canon law had original jurisdiction over most English legal matters.

Civil Canon law was basically copied from Rome’s Civil law, influencing modem English ecclesiastical and common law. America’s first corporate universities, including Harvard, adopted this religious heritage, emblazoning its first two official seals with “Christo et Ecclesiae” (“For Christ and Church”) (1650 and 1692).

  • Canon Law Applied

Canon law was applied to English church courts, with revived Roman law seeing less influence in England, despite Norman’s government dominance. England and its colonies during the 12th-13th centuries saw ecclesiastical law taught mostly by the clergy. Even the king’s early central courts had no professional advocates. The proceedings were informal, and parties (or their speakers) presented their own cases before their king, noble, or clergy.

Until the thirteenth century, and far into it, the clergy remained the prominent legal practitioners in the ecclesiastical courts and lay courts. As a matter of fact, clergymen predominated lay courts so much that a word was coined: Nullus clericus nisi causidicus (no clergyman was not also a legal practitioner). It would not be till much later that British Canonical law was subsumed into the Chancery court.

The First English Law Clerk Was A King?

Probably. Norman princes were educated in all manner, including by professorial monks. The Anglo-Saxon Born Norman king, Henry I, was called Beauclerk because he was well educated, fluent in Latin reading and writing, with knowledge of Anglo-Saxon Domesday Book laws, nature, and history. Beauclerk was a fan of the last Anglo-Saxon King, Edward the Confessor. (1042-1066).

Edward’s mother, a Norman, and was born around 1003, or 1005. Edward was recorded as a “witness” overseeing the two charters of 1005. In the early 1030s, Edward witnessed four charters in Normandy, later signing two of them as king of England.

  • 1100: (The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was Henry I’s written proclamation to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of nobles, church officials, and individuals. (Magna Carta forerunner).
  • 1140 – James Brundage has explained: “[by 1140], no one in Western Europe was a professional lawyer or canonist.”

Henry II (1154–1189); Rise Of The “Common” “Law Attornatus” and Servientes or Serjeants

Henry II’s royal officials roamed the country, inquiring about administering justice. Church and state were separate during his reign, each having its own law and court systems. This led to centuries of rivalry over jurisdiction, especially since church courts’ pre-Reformation appeals could be taken to Rome. And all the “lawyers” of the day were religious employees.

Attornatus Defined

The term attornatus, or attorney, probably is early German. (Anglo-Saxon) Freemen of each shire were regularly summoned to the Torn by the shire reeve (modernly, sheriff). Any man incapable of personally attending the torn could send their friend or close family member relative to represent the missing person “at the torn.”

Their “attorney” substitute now represented the attorney party. Other theories exist the word is French atournee or atourner, with Godofredus labeling this an 11th Century Latinized “loan word.” Gradually this became a person prepared or equipped to act in substitution of parties during legal proceedings.

Attornatus Distinguished From Forespeka

The attornatus, forensically speaking, remains clearly distinguishable from the forespeka or Vorsprecher. “If you appear by attorney, he represents you, but when you have the assistance of an advocate [scil., a leader], you are present, and he supports your cause by his learning, ingenuity, and zeal. Appearance by attorney is one thing, but admitting advocates to plead the cause of another is a totally different proceeding.” (Serjeant’s Case 5; Lord Brougham explains attorney-pleader (forespeka) differences.).

  • 1150 – A small but increasing number of the clergy became experts in canon law. But the clergy gradually withdrew or became barred from practicing law in lay courts. Laypeople had begun replacing clergy legal practitioners.

1161-1185: The First Temple, or Inns of Court

Knights Templars lodged the first law professors at their Inns of Court.

No one knows the Inns of Court’s exact origins. But believe it or not, the Knights Templar liked lawyers. Originally, their lawyers lived with them in their castles. Ultimately they became Inns, where all lawyers in England received legal apprenticeships. But, they were central to the development of English law and the Legal Profession. By 1422, the king’s serjeants were almost exclusively drawn from the court’s four inns. Mentors gave readings on commoner lay laws and certain aspects of Roman law. (Fun fact: Ancient Serjeant = Modern Sergeant = Servant)

Almost all the Judges taught there and returned to attend readings. And the inns weren’t aloof as to the developments of the common law. But their primary function was to “preserve and elaborate the settled learning concerning real actions and real property, and it was in that sense that the law schools made tough law.” The Inns showed us the law was not a creature of statute only. They showed us a human influencers’ body, refining the legal profession, producing future legislators and judges.

  • The Honourable Societies – The Inner and Outer Temples were sandwiched between the remnants of Roman ruins called “the Liberty of the City,” just outside London’s protective walls. “This gate opens not immediately into the City itself, but into the Liberty or Freedom thereof.” (Queen Anne, 1708).
Temple Bar Circa 1700. All rights reserved. Fair use.
  • The Templars considered it an honor to remain posted outside the “protective walls” of London’s secular society.
  • The Temple’s construction and remodel phases can be dated between 1161 and 1185, named for the warrior monks of the iconic Order of The Knight’s Templars. Templars originally lodged its lawyers and allies, the Knights Hospitalers, within Temple walls. The Temple is where knights launched holy crusades when England’s Kings and Rome’s Pope were were religious allies.

Rank Structure Of The Temple Inns

The masters became known as benchers while the students were classified into three categories:

  1. Readers: Experienced teaching assistants/students, known as readers, were employed in instruction in somewhat the same manner as contemporary law school professors.
  2. Inner Barrister: New students, whose course of instruction was largely lecture
    and observation were denominated, inner barristers.
  3. Outer Barrister: outer barristers, was perhaps the equivalent of today’s second-year law
    school class and their studies were dominated by participation in the “moot.”

Possible Origins Of Legal Term, “Bar”

  • Temple Bar. Evolved from the so-called “Liberty line,” or “First-Barrier” (A chain gate draped between the Temple and London’s gates.). Ultimately, the bar came to mean one thing for “legal London,” and another for the courts. (This is where we traced the legal terms “Barrister,” and “passing the bar,” or first barrier to practicing law) Modernly, each Temple’s dining hall still has a long wooden bar dividing the governors (benchers) from their apprentices. For non-lawyers, since 1351, the Temple Bar is mentioned historically as the location victorious kings would pass beneath its arches. This may have something to do with holy crusades being launched from this location.

“The Liberty line was marked by a chain gate which became known as the Temple Bar, now a stone gateway of the same name. Along with London Bridge, the gateway became a prime public location used to display the heads of traitors and rebels as a warning to others. Below the gateway was a well-used pillory.”Duhaime’s Law Dictionary, “Inns of Court Definition.”

  • Call to the Bar or Call to Bar referenced the wooden barrier separating the public and “Apprentice at the Law” from the judge’s bench. Barristers, like attorneys today, stood or sat behind the bar while speaking to and facing the judge, staging their legal briefs, papers and pleadings there. (We lawyers must seek admission from the court before passing the bar to approach the bench (See the Temple influence? Ex: “Your honor, may I approach?“)
  • Bar in Middle Ages: Bar also referenced the king’s summons, calling a legally qualified man to address the King’s Bench’s legal issues.
  • “Bar” Modern Use: Ultimately, in common law countries, this term interchangeably came to mean passing a bar exam and being admitted to practice law as a barrister, or attorney, with solicitors passing a different but similar examination. Modernly, some scholars claim that the word bar was derived from the old English/European custom separating court business between a public viewing area. At least one Wikipedia editor thinks “The origin of the term bar is from the barring furniture dividing a mediaeval European courtroom.” But they provided no citation in support.
  • See Image of the Bar!
Temples of England Inns of Court

England’s Four Inns of Court

Due to the different types of legal education required, four Inns of Court evolved to train Barristers, responsible for teaching and nurturing law students for their unique legal skillsets as follows:

Ultimately, this Temple Inn evolved into two “Temples,” as follows:

  1. The Honourable Society of The Inner Temple,
  2. The Honourable Society of The Middle Temple

Next on our list of Inns of Court are:

3. The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn: not to be confused with Abraham Lincoln, remains the largest Inn, with official records showing its existence since at least 1422.

4. The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn: traces its roots to 1569, but law student studies likely never happened there until the later fourteenth century.

Heraldry of the First Inns of Court of London

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Brief Legal Education History Of the Inns of Chancery

There were two types of Inns, Inns of Court and Inns of Chancery, attached to an Inn of Court “like Maids of Honour to a Princess.” These Inns were responsible for training solicitors. There were other equitable courts we will not cover here. This study limits itself to the evolution away from apprenticeships and the remnants left behind in those few hold-out states. At their height, there were eight or ten Inns of Chancery.

Inns Of Court Legal Education

  • Evolution Of Law Practice Admissions From Guilds to Inns

As the namesake suggests, inns were various structures housing various law students who would live and earn their keep as apprentices, laboring under their legal masters, reading for the law, and eventually working as barristers solicitors (previous Court of Chancery lawyers).

Inns remained unincorporated bodies, run by senior members called “masters of the bench” or “benchers.” When law students had been “called” to enter the profession by fellow Inn members, they would receive recognition and authorization to legally practice law and plead at the bar in England’s higher courts.

What Was The “Moot”

The best method of legal education for Inns members was attending court. When the court was in session, the Inns were crowded with the judges, lawyers, and students. When courts were not hearing cases, law readers gave lectures and conducted Bolts within the same courthouses, a special moot court.

Since case reports were rare, moots and open court helped students understand current legal questions, as they were argued by admitted and skilled litigators with student input. After moot courts, a collegial and pedagogical discussion between the above parties ensued . “the mooters presented the judges with a slice of bread and a mug of beer. . . .”

At night, generally, Inns students engaged in educational exercises.

  • End of the Moots

By the eighteenth century, the readings and moots had declined, students being left mainly to their own devices. England’s only requirement for bar admissions by benchers of the Inns was proof that they had kept twelve terms eating the mandatory number of meals.

Another method to gain bar entry was proof a student had clerked with established barristers. But barristers had no formal time commitment to supervise law students in the barrister’s chambers. With no standard tests, apprenticeship quality was never subject to objective, standardized evaluations.

  • Origins of the Crib and “Crib-Notes”?

Although student-barristers were expected to read certain standard works, such as Littleton, Coke, Glanville, and Bracton, Lord Mansfield set aside a portion received most barrister legal education in the courts. Lord Mansfield set aside a portion of the courtroom for student use to accommodate student needs, called the “crib.” Incidentally, the modern phrase “crib notes” likely arose from his teaching method.

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The New Non-Clergy Law Student

The UK’s new legal system presented many opportunities for non-clergy and other men of the cloth to read for and practice law during the 14th century.

  • 1164: During this period, we see Inns of Court coming into its own. Religious officials became absolutely disqualified by Papal Bull from law practice in lay courts.
  • 1178: King Henry II appointed two clerics and three laymen to a “permanent and central court.” From this time on, it was not unusual that laymen on the Bench should preside over their ecclesiastical brethren.
  • 1179: Third Lateran Council [Citation needed]
  • 1190 to 1230: A crucial shift began with some men practicing canon law as legal professionals.
  • 1215: Fourth Lateran Council admonished clergy to never appear for a secular lawsuit, except in cases affecting themselves or on behalf of the poor and the distressed.
  • 1215: Magna Charta agreed upon by king Henry II.
  • 1216-1272 – Henry III: By now, despite the Papal admonishments, most royal justices, including royal clerks or officials, were technically clergymen. But beginning under Henry III would recruit his lawyers would recruit lawyers from the royal Bench’s Bar.
  • 1217: Law of the Forest (introduced as policy in 1217 and confirmed by Edward III in 1225).
  • 1217-1218: The Pope, frustrated with King Henry I and II, prohibited England’s clergy from practicing law in secular English Common Law courts. “neither clerics nor monastics are to appear as advocati in a secular court, unless in their own causes or in those of the poor.” (Later incorporated in the so-called Constitutions of Cardinal Otho in 1237).
  • 1225: Law of Forest confirmed.
  • 1232: Two French councils in 1231 had mandated that lawyers had to swear an oath of admission before practicing before the bishop’s courts in their regions. A London papal legate created a similar oath in 1237.
  • 1234: Ultimately, in 1234 AD, Henry III banned legal education “within the City” of London, prompting a mass legal educator exodus, including clergy and law students leaving the protective “Liberty” of the City’s walls. (He couldn’t just ban priest law teachers, as he could set of a Holy War against England) The warrior Templar monks (See above), still vassals of the Pope, granted these legal disciples respite alongside their own legal counsel then training as Templar lawyers, renting space as it were, to these displaced jurists.
  • 1236: The great barons of Normandy were permitted to appoint an attornatus, provided they ‘had secured a royal license…”
  • 1237: Constitutions of Cardinal Otho affirms restrictions on religious officials participating in secular courts.

Clerical legal representatives were on the decline in England, as was Rome-based Christianity.

1270-1300 – Rise Of The Full Attornatus

By now, we see two classes of attorney rise:

  1. Full Attornatus: The full attornatus helped courtiers, nobles, clergy, people living far away, or those engaged in protracted causes. Because certain people (sick, infirm, far away) could not always appear personally, the attornatus became a class of pros and, like servientes or serjeants, were becoming “full-time lawyers.” But unlike public deputies of the day, these new representatives were educated.
  2. Attornatus Regis: The King’s attorney. (See below)
  • 1272-1307 – Edward I: The English Bench and Bar’s secularization continued, ushering in a class of professional legal practitioners in general. By Edward’s death, most English lawyers practicing law in royal courts were professional laymen. Edward also instituted the first Moral Character Law.
  • 1275: France’s professionalization trend saw a proposal at the Second Council of Lyon in 1275 that all ecclesiastical courts must institute an oath of admission influential in many European courts, including England.
  • 1275 – First Statute of Westminster: England’s civil courts joined the trend towards professionalization. (Statute was enacted punishing professional lawyers guilty of deceit). (no sheriff shall suffer “barretors to maintain quarrels in their shires, neither stewards of great Lords, nor others, unless he be attorney for his Lord, to make suit or give judgment in the counties …” The non admitted attornatus was considered a deputy, not respected as the Crown’s particular attornatus, merely acting as their lord’s deputy at the Bar or Bench.
  • 1278: The King’s attornatus or attornati, called attornatus Regis (King’s attorney), sued the Bishop of Exeter. After that, Attornatus Regis began assuming serviens Regis roles. But the King’s attorney still needed the “King’s commission.” (or Chancellor’s commission).
  • 1280: the mayor’s court of the city of London promulgated regulations concerning admission procedures, including administering an oath.

  • 1285: Second Statute of Westminster provided penalties for serjeants, leaders, and attorneys who engaged in unprofessional conduct. Lawyers were made legally liable for defrauding clients and negligent representation of causes. Lawyers were penalized if convicted of engaging in or consenting to deceit or collusion in Royal courts. But mainly it was the King’s serjeants, and pleaders complained of.
  • 1288: Norman attornatio were finally allowed to practice in lower Norman courts.
  • 1289: “The City Ordinance of 1289” regulated London’s legal practitioners.
  • 1290: The so-called Mirror of Justices observed that “no counteur [pleader] should be a man of religion or an ordained cleric.”
  • 1292: King Edward I appoints 140 attorneys, including their apprentices, to accompany his common-law courts, helping litigants. This increased formal legal training needs in the realm.
  • 1294: The 1288 Norman Court rule allowing law attornatus in lawyer courts was abolished in 1294 by the Parliament of Paris, including Normandy.
  • 1295: First Mention of Attorney General. “because John . . . is at the King’s command, . . . he may have general attorneys in all his lawsuits.” The King, London, and the great barons, like any large corporation, constantly needed competent legal representation.
  • 1297: Confirmatio Cartarum – Edward II recognizes pre-existing natural laws respecting liberty and freedom from certain government interference. (Learn more about Natural Law Here).
  • 1297: Remonstrances Edward II is served with the Remonstrances. Edward I’s incessant wars and his confrontational style led to conflict with some lay and ecclesiastical lords. Edward II’s bias towards his lover/friend Piers Gaveston in giving him royal titles created great jealousy among the realm’s magnates as well, culminating in complaints about the royal government.
  • 1298: London’s First City Attorney – London appoints William of Grantham (Granham or Graham) city attornatus to the royal court, “to receive annually so long as he be attorney twenty shillings.” (“the freedom of the City” granted to “attorney before the King.”)

Over time, the legal profession in England was divided into two functions; as follows:

  1. Forespeaker (advocatus or prolocutor): A person stood beside a litigant and spoke as if they were him.
  2. Attornotus or procurator: A representative who acted on behalf of someone in his absence, bound to represent that person.
  • 1307-1327: Edward II complained his Barons of the Exchequer admitted attorneys in other courts. This period saw the extraordinary growth of a professional attorney class. The Crown regularly granted permission to appoint special and general attornati, either by statute or by writ. The attornati also received remuneration from clients.
  • 1308: Parliament banishes Lord Gaveston, [previously banished by Edward I’s father] (Earl of Cornwall, and likely Edward II’s homosexual lover) from the realm under pain of Papal ex-communication.
  • 1309: Edward II convinces the Pope to drop annulment risks against Gaveston, and Lord Gaveston returns to England from Ireland.
  • 1309: Gaveston’s arrogance remains such an affront to the Lords, barons, bishops that many in parliament won’t attend sessions with Gaveston present. The king ordered Gaveston to stay away, and parliamentarians appeared, illegally, wearing full battle regalia, armed, demanding the appointment of Ordainers. Their goal was to prevent the king from acting against their interests again.
  • 1311: Ordinances of 1311 are accepted by Edward II under duress, forced upon him by Papal clergy, including rebellious Baron’s and Lords, called Lord Ordainers. (Attempting to end arbitrary royal government action, including confiscatory taxes, etc.)
  • 1312: Lord Gaveston is captured and executed when two Welshmen beheaded him on behalf of Parliamentarians and their allies, [now preparing for war against the Crown] his body left behind.

  • 1312: The End Of Templar Influence Over English Legal Education. Most of us are aware of motion pictures like Tom Hank’s, based on Dan Brown’s best-selling book, Davinci Code. As in real life, the King of France, going bankrupt from Holy Crusade debts, conspired with the new Pope to destroy the Knights Templar. France’s king attempted to confiscate Templar’s wealth. The Church turned its allied Orders living in England against the Templars. The English King was also deeply in debt to the Templars. So he saw no problems when the Order of Saint John’s Knight’s Hospitalers defeated the Temple Inns Templar crusaders in 1312, displacing their former landlords. But their Order honored the rental/lease agreement of the resident lawyers and law students apprenticing there.
  • 1322: The Statute of York, 1322 undoes the Ordinances of 1311 and prohibits lawmaking attornati and inferior officers of the royal courts (clerks) from interfering with royal prerogative.
  • 1344: Inns of Chancery, Clifford’s Inn is said to come into existence.
  • 1349: Marks the era England/Papacy began severing secular disputes from Papal courts and clerics in earnest.
  • 1349: Thavie’s Inn of Chancery was founded, and for several centuries, Chancery Inn education was the first step towards equity practitioners becoming a barrister. A student would first join one of the Inns of Chancery, where he was taught moots and rote learning by Readers sent from the Inn of Court to which his Inn was attached. These readers presided over the moots and engage in class discussions. At the end of each Inn’s legal term, gifted students would be transferred to the parent Inn of Court for stage II.
  • 1392: The House of Commons suggested that no clerk attached to Royal courts should be admitted as counsel or attornatus to other parties. (conflict of interest). (Attorneys are also no longer held liable for their client’s wrongful deeds).
  • 1402: In the year 1402, the Commons complained that many instances of legal malpractice had occurred.
  • 1413: Statute was enacted protecting law practitioners as a class, restricting legal practice. (No Under-Sheriff, Sheriffs Clerk, Sheriff’s Bailiff or Receiver, may act as an attorney in royal courts while holding office – Titles of Nobility).
  • 1439: The attorney was fined forty shillings for failing to pay for his law license. (No person should regularly practice law unless duly admitted by the Mayor and Aldermen).
  • 1461: Approximately 100 students engaged in Inns of Chancery studies. Inns of Chancery also served as accommodation and offices by solicitors.

  • 1512-1517: Fifth Lateran Council.
  • 1517: Luther nailed his 1517 smash hit Ninety-five Theses to the door of a local Dioces, with copies being made widely available. With the invention of the Guttenberg printing press, copies of the Holy Bible, banned from public view by the Church, would become widely available. No longer maintaining a biblical text stranglehold, the Catholic Church was confronted by renegade, heretic German monk Martin Luther.
  • 1521: Edict of Worms officially bans Holy Roman Empire citizens from agreeing with or spreading Luther’s “blasphemy.”
  • 1535: The Protestant Reformation became a huge powerplay for Europe’s monarchs and Hapsburg Empire loyalists. The political separation of the Church of England from Roman influence brought England alongside this new movement. Henry VIII establishes the Anglican Church, tired of the Pope’s spiritual control over English courts and people. The king effectively breaks England away from the Papacy after its final insult in refusing to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

  • 1539: Ultimately, the British Crown evicted the Knights Hospitallers and Order of Saint John from this guilded property between 1539-1540.
  • 1562: The Statute Against Forgery prohibits attorney punishment for pleading his client’s forged deed if he was not a party to the forgery. (“immunity” of attornatus is older).
  • 1608: King James I enacts Inns of the Court Charter. (Law students, teachers/governors have rights to stay and train at Inns of Court).
  • Date: The English Reformation sped up under King Edward the VI. But then, for a short period, Queen Mary I and King Philip Catholicism were back. But The Act of Supremacy 1558 renewed the schism, with the Elizabethan Settlement earning Britain its sovereignty from Rome.
  • 1620: Senior English judges ruled that all four inns would maintain equal order of precedence. The English legal craft of learning the law from the 16th century forward would primarily involve legal apprentices volunteering, or paying a fee, attending court with their masters, living and working among either their head barrister, “professors” until the cessation of apprenticeship training, swearing their lawyer’s oath.

  • 1642: After the First English Civil War in 1642, teaching Chancery students to be barristers at the Inns ended. Chancery Inns were now a dedicated association for solicitors used as offices and accommodations. England’s war of independence hurt the legal profession. This is where we see barrister Inns of Court seven or more years of legal training all but disappearing as a rule.

  • The Decline of Inns Chancery-Importance In English Law Legal Studies
  • By the 15th century, these Inns of Chancery had already morphed into preparatory schools for the Inns of Court, after the Inns of Court began charging higher acceptance fees to students trained in independent Chancery Inns. Experienced solicitors made Inns sort of a warm marketing network, similar to CAALA or ABOTA today. Still, many Inns fell in and out of allegiance with the Inns of Court, with some claiming independence through the eighteenth century.
  • NOTE: American Inns, similar to English Inns, are akin to social clubs, offering mentoring and guidance rather than supervising law study. I, too, was a member of the Benjamin Arranda III pupilage group of Redondo Beach, California.
  • NOTE: Like today’s law schools, only very wealthy or well-off students could pay the exorbitant price of an Inns of Court legal education, with King James requiring “a gentleman by descent” as a pre-condition to entry.
  • 1673: These Temple’s residents, by now mainly Middle and Inner Temple pupils and law mentors, ultimately purchased the defeated Templar’s land and structures in 1673 for a £78 payment.

  • 1729: These legal training methods slowly fell into decline after the latter 16th century, with many students now reading books made possible in part by Luther’s popularizing of the printing press. With Inns training being replaced by Blackstone and Sir Francis Bacon’s writings, the mid 17th century saw little formalized English legal education until the solicitor’s apprenticeship program in 1729.
  • 1739 and 1825: The foundation of the Society of Gentlemen Practisers and Law Society of England and Wales in 1739 and 1825, respectively, were professional bodies established for professional solicitors but gradually dissolved and sold over time.

This section covered most of the ancient history of becoming a lawyer. Go here to read part two about becoming an attorney under common law.

Read More »Common Law History of Becoming a Lawyer With No Law School

Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Lawyer Without Law School

How Do I Become An Attorney With No Law School or Undergrad?
Becoming a Lawyer Without Law School

You may have landed here because of Kim Kardashian. No, she is not a lawyer yet; yes, she did pass the Baby Bar. I am personal injury attorney, Michael Ehline. Below, I am going to share the secrets of how I became a personal injury lawyer in California and then, later, in Texas. Law school graduates will look at you disgustingly as you laugh at them for their arrogance. Law school can be great for some, but academia doesn’t equate to the art of practicing law, and law school can never teach you this art. I am Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline.

I became a lawyer with no law degree and was invited to study law in a law school after passing the California State Bar First Year Law Student’s Examination (FYLSX). Before stepping one foot onto the law school graduation ceremony stage, I was already a practicing lawyer.


I will talk about my experiences studying in a judge’s chambers, several lawyers, and attending law school classes at night when I was already a practicing attorney.

Before obtaining any higher degree to practice law, I passed the Baby Bar Exam and General Bar Exam. You heard right! Can you pass the bar without going to law school?

You can become a practicing attorney and never consider setting foot in a law school in California and a few other American states. Here is the concise history of Do It Yourself Law (DIY-Law) from the Medieval Knights Templar lodged near London to the few surviving states in North America.

So Can I Become A Lawyer Without Law School?

Yes, it remains possible to practice without a JD in some states, including taking the Virginia Bar, Maine Bar, and New York Bar. We also cover the Vermont/Virginia disparities and what it takes to become licensed full-time as a bona fide attorney admitted to practice. We also discuss bar exam pass rates compared to regular bar exam exam examinees and law study program exam exam examinees, as well as those with at least some law school training.

Reading law no longer remains the prototypical path of most modern attorneys, but it has its benefits for free thinkers. Accredited law schools are the model that has almost replaced the traditional approach to becoming a lawyer without a degree. Under this model, there are established ways to teach law and even professional responsibility courses to obtain that prestigious law degree.

And I loved researching the true story of becoming a lawyer with no law school academy and cataloging it for posterity’s sake.

Below I will discuss some history, finding an attorney participating in an apprenticeship program, the number of hours you must complete, with the year of law study graduation to sit for the bar. Also included are differences every mentoring attorney must know between ABA-approved law school students, those with at least some law school, and those with zero formal education.

I also created several other posts for this alternative law study methods series. Enjoy!

“Reading the Law” – Lincoln Law School 101?

Reading law evolved primarily from English common law and history. There was no such thing as a “law degree” or a law school. Historically, law schools never existed, so legal apprentices clerked for judges or lawyers to secure entry into the legal profession for centuries.

Back then, legal apprentice law students in America and England typically read from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England to learn legal philosophy, the Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God, typically through the Inns of Court of Chancery. That was the closest thing our ancestors had to a law school as an entry to practice law or become a practicing attorney.

The most significant legal scholars, philosophers, and lawyers throughout history received no formal educational training in a college or law school. Preparing for the law came into its own in the American colonies, particularly during the period leading up to the American Revolution, Post Revolution, and our second war with England circa 1812.

Like our modern California State Bar Law Office Study Program (LOSP), reading the law in early America typically consisted of a lengthy internship under veteran lawyers or judge mentors. Again, academia was not where a courtroom warrior learned how to become a practicing attorney or seek admission to practice law.

To become a lawyer without law school, our ancestors needed some law office training before being accepted into a law practice or being admitted to the bar in this nation.

There was no written bar exam or alternative method to become a lawyer without law school. Hence, there was no skip law school admission alternative. Below, I will cover all of this. I even wrote a more comprehensive article explaining the history of the bar exam, law school, and how to forego law school tuition here.

From the ancient periods till now, far from students just examining scholarly works, apprentices attended court, sat in on depositions, and helped with billing, housekeeping matters, and calendaring, basically as a squire, sometimes seven years or more.

Legal apprentices and even tutelage groups within English Inns of Court (discussed below) would study independently, not in law school. Apprentices also assisted their jurist guides until they could approach and “pass the bar.”

Historically, Canada once followed a similar no-law school system. Lawyers of that bygone era would laugh today if they heard students were not attending Inns of Court, clerking, and sweeping law office floors after hours or while riding the Big Blue Bus.

Attending some classes or applying to top-tier law schools is something Sir Willam Blackstone would not have understood. Back then, the emphasis was emulating trade guilds, like freemasons. Becoming a lawyer without a law degree was normal. There was no way to skip law school since there were none.

Skipping law school isn’t for everyone. Forming interpersonal relationships with a supervising attorney (mentoring attorney) or local law offices with other legal professionals offering legal apprenticeships takes time. To take the bar exam without having established yourself as a legal apprentice among peers on the apprenticeship route was probably something judges would have forbidden for a legal apprentice.

There was no written exam. It was oral. So a law apprenticeship with enough continuous years of training was examined before courts, not a committee of bar examiners. There was no bar exam as it exists modernly.

Becoming a lawyer without a written bar examination was par for the course. Law degrees didn’t come along till much later to replace this once-traditional legal education with law school debt.

It was ad hoc and designed to test your minimum level of training and etiquette. Following stipulations, a lawyer with less training could be admitted into his local state bar and off to the western states or federal territories as a prairie lawyer (Ex; Abraham Lincoln)

In General, What Do Legal Apprentices Do That Law Students Don’t?

They say those who can do and those who can’t teach. Although this euphemism won’t always prove true, modern law students miss out on the legal education that comes through practical application. True, many legal apprentices paid their fees and volunteered time to work with masters.

Pupils under judges, civil or criminal lawyers, will generally receive valuable, practical, and collegial experience, including:

  • Attending court (trials, hearings, arguments, cross-examinations, direct exams, etc.)
  • Attending depositions (*Certified law students in CA can also take depositions)
  • *Conducting trials (*Certified law students in CA can conduct trials in certain cases)
  • Visiting jails and prisons for prisoner interviews. (I did this)
  • Learning the word processor, and state and local procedural rules (most law grads can’t create a proper footer, let alone a pleading caption)
  • Learning the rules of evidence (by continuously propounding and responding to discovery).
  • I am learning law and motion (by meeting and conferring, filing motions to compel and for sanctions, fighting or propounding motions for summary judgment/adjudication, dealing with appeals, writs, conservatorship, and perhaps sweeping out the office and organizing some files).
  • Attending essential events (like judicial retirements and peer groups such as Circle of Legal Trust or Personal Injury Warriors International).

Pupils will develop valuable relationships with court personnel, including deputies, marshalls, clerks, CHP officers, and witnesses. Lawyers will be interested and usually shrug it off, saying, “good luck.” To many, you are a token, a novelty, not to be taken seriously.

To others, like Justice Hastings was to me, you are the torchbearer of legal tradition. “Everyone is interested in the person becoming a lawyer with no law school.” (Will this token peasant actually pass the bar exam?)

What Are Some Other Direct Attorney Supervision Benefits Of Becoming A Lawyer With No Law School?

  • You will be honoring those greater men and women who came before you when practicing law.
  • You will receive a mentor, so you will not be independently studying to take the bar exam.
  • You can study under several law practitioner types, including criminal prosecution, civil law, civil rights law, appeals, writs, personal injury law, real estate law, and everything in between.
  • You disciplined students will control your schedules to a large degree while others trying to pass the bar exam are held hostage by it.
  • Depending on your state, you will save money by not paying for a traditional degree and undergrad. The high cost of a traditional legal education, which most students finance with student loans, can be offset with law school scholarships. Sadly, many law students graduate with crushing debt, limiting volunteerism, and more noble career options after passing the bar exam.
  • Other potential benefits include studying law in your local legal community instead of attending law school, which is the rural area lawyer shortage. Lawyers with local legal apprentice programs may keep ambitious local students in their community, attending to local needs.
  • $$ Your supervisor will likely hire you to do paralegal work with your new, layered litigation skills and real-life experience.
  • Some certified apprenticeships receive grants and federal/state money in exchange for an employment contract or clerkship. I have not researched this extensively concerning law office study programs, but you may get paid to learn sometimes.

I know from personal experience that a properly-trained legal apprentice will receive more real-world experience than law school-educated graduates. Even if a law grad has some clinical studies or summer clerk positions interning or externing, few receive basic litigation training.

Still, fewer law grads will attend court regularly or mingle among lawyers almost daily for four-plus years. Most law students spend time in classes, taking notes. Ask yourself this. How long do I have to go to law school? Three years? Four years? It can take a little less time, but you’ll never make the same connections you will be accompanying your tutor.

Modern professors teach a lot of great stuff, but they can’t teach litigation, and they don’t teach local rules or how to create a proper pleading template. Students won’t know what a civil case cover sheet is or isn’t. Working in a practicing attorney’s office is a great experience for a prospective California lawyer.

Just attending court and learning courtroom politics regularly means you will have confidence once you pass the bar exam. You also won’t drown in hundreds of thousands of dollars of law school debt in the process. This program gives anyone ambitious a leg up.

If You Don’t Enjoy Reading, Reading Law To Practice Law Is Probably Not For You

Suppose you’re a legal historian or prospective enrollee into a tutelage program under a supervising attorney. In that case, there is one commonality you will see present in most successful jurists, a love of “reading.”

  • Becoming A Lawyer With No Law School Becomes Fun

Like anything in life, you can never write well if you don’t read, comprehend, and [hopefully] orate well. The earliest people akin to “lawyers” were probably ancient Athenian orators. (Source). Students had no TV or smartphones. To receive information, reading was everything.

Great readers became great writers; great writers became even greater orators. With no TV or radio, public speaking, often with a loud, convincing voice, was a big deal to the general public.

Great orators became great leaders. This truth reigns true modernly, with most elected lawmakers and judges being former trial lawyers themselves.

  • Case In Point, Abraham Lincoln

Since my ultimate research on becoming a lawyer with no law degree or undergrad deals with American common law, let’s start with the Lincoln lawyer, Honest Abe, our 16th U.S. president. Lincoln had no educational supervision, tutor, or master.

Abe was primarily self-educated, receiving about 12 months total lifetime basic education lessons from itinerant educators when possible. From my research, he appears to be the only law reader meeting the definition of impoverished, with uneducated kin—[Citation needed]. No law school he could attend existed, and no Inns of Court existed, making Lincoln entirely self-educated in law.

Abe had going for him like during the colonial era; we needed lawyers, especially out west. The western states were in dire need of frontier lawyers. Mealy-mouthed college boys couldn’t handle westward travel, and eastern city judges were keen on letting self or less-educated settlers with the constitution pass their oral bar-headed west! Illinois was known as a state whose judges would swear lawyers after a short study period.

  • Lincoln, Like Most Law Readers, Clerks and Apprentices, Enjoyed Reading Literature

Lincoln loved reading and giving speeches! His love for reading lasted till his death at the hands of an assassin in 1865. Witnesses from his day, including close family members, neighbors, and friends, recalled he regularly read the classics, including Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, the King James Bible, Aesop’s Fables, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. (Source).

  • The Task of Becoming a Lawyer With No Formal Legal Education Requires the Discipline Of A Knight’s Templar, a Warrior Monk

Reading requires discipline. Problem-solving requires discipline. If you don’t have that warrior-monk-like discipline to sit still, silently evaluating tasks and solutions, you will never pass the problem-solving speed exam known as the State Bar.

TIP: Don’t Confuse Monk-Like Studies And Self Learning With Laziness Since You’re Not Going To Law School

Lincoln’s family asserted his reading, not to mention his proclivity for whittling wood into shapes, made him seem lazy. (His “reading, scribbling, writing, ciphering, writing poetry, etc.”) My First Year Law Student’s Exam tutor, and California State Bar Examination tutor, Paul Pfau, often said, “tell your family, tell your friends, ‘I must be selfish with my time, so I can study and master the herculean task of becoming a lawyer.”‘ My friends don’t take up lawyering if you don’t love literature and the problem-solving that comes with interpretation and writing styles.

TIP: Never Surrender

The Knights Templar took an oath never to surrender, including chastity and poverty. The modern English Inns can see Their Holy Order’s subtle influence on English courts and the very “bar” passed to practice law. To become a lawyer without law school, you too must take your own oath because it isn’t no walk in the park. If you are married, a single mom, or poor, you must explain to your family the journey they will take with you as you prepare yourself before the bar. I have provided the ancient history up till now. My tip for you? If anything, join the Marines and learn success through merit. When becoming a lawyer with no law degree or undergrad, work ethic and determination are everything.

What Are The Secrets Of Law Students To Becoming A Lawyer Without Going To Law School?

There are no secrets. My story is about becoming a North American lawyer with no law or college degree in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program (Sometimes LOSP). This is a history of legal education through reading law, including law office study, clerking, and independent study, starting with some history and background.

GENESIS: North American common law evolved from English common law, each colony initially bringing trained lawyers from England, eventually choosing their court officer selection process, including selecting attorneys within the colonies/states.

Modern Written Bar Exam v. Older Oral Bar Exams

Most people become lawyers upon graduating. But they cannot practice law and become an “attorney” until they pass the standardized, written bar exam. Apprenticeship programs, including clerkships law reading programs, have been touted as the fastest way to become an attorney, but most were oral before a court till recent times.

What Is A Lawyer?

For this article’s purposes, the generic word “lawyer” can be a person who practices law and includes other legal practitioners, including British solicitors or chartered legal executives. Lawyers can only be called “barristers” if they were “called to the Bar.” Ultimately, barristers can practice and advocate in higher and lower courts. Solicitors were, and still are, relegated to litigation and lower court advocacy.

After passing the bar, these now barristers left law students and solicitors behind, outside the court’s symbolic “well.” Over time, these barrister “attorneys” became advocacy specialists, committed to representing clients or courtroom processes and procedures. Sometimes clients would hire a barrister and a solicitor. Eventually, it became compulsory for the solicitor to choose and engage the client’s barrister for courtroom advocacy.

Modern Attorney Defined

Whereas a licensed lawyer can provide legal advice in most common law jurisdictions, only an attorney can simultaneously provide legal advice, and services and advocate client legal matters. In the U.S., attorneys can practice law in all U.S. courts and the state court they are licensed, with exceptions for pro hac vice matters.

1755: First Law School Professor in England?

This lawyer was likely revered when someone read law in the colonies and later states. Sir William Blackstone was admitted to the Middle Temple in November 1741, ultimately rising to England’s first law lecturer, titled “Vinerian Professor of English Law.” After that, he was elected to the English Parliament in 1761, and later appointed Justice of the Court of King’s Bench on February 16 1770.

He was elevated as Justice of the Common Pleas soon afterward on June 25, where he remained until his death on February 14 1780. Blackstone conducted lectures on English law at Oxford in the 1750s. But English Common Law was officially recognized as a university-taught subject in the later 1800s

Importance Of North American Lawyers Modernly?

Lawyers became powerful local and colony-wide leaders by 1700 in the American colonies. They grew increasingly powerful in the colonial era as experts in the English common law adopted by all the colonies. By the 21st Century, over one million practitioners in the United States held law degrees. Many others served the legal system as justices of the peace, paralegals, marshalls, and other aides.

“Reading the Law” – Lincoln Law School Method 101?

Reading law evolved primarily from English common law and history. There was no such thing as a “law degree.” Historically, law schools never existed, so legal apprentices clerked for judges or lawyers to secure entry into the legal profession for centuries. Back then, legal apprentice law students in America and England would typically read from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England to learn legal philosophy, the Laws of Nature, and Nature’s God, typically through the Inns of Court or Chancery.

Historically, the most significant legal scholars, philosophers, and lawyers received no formal educational training in a college or law school. This technique came into its own in the American colonies, particularly during the period leading up to the American Revolution, Post Revolution, and our second war with England circa 1812.

Like our modern California State Bar Law Office Study Program (LOSP), reading law in early America typically consisted of a lengthy internship under veteran lawyers or judge mentors.

In the ancient periods till now, far from students just briefing scholarly works, apprentices attended court, sat in on depositions, and helped with billing, housekeeping matters, and calendaring, basically as a squire, sometimes seven years or more. Legal apprentices and even tutelage groups within English Inns of Court (discussed below) would study independently. Apprentices also assisted their jurist guides until they could approach and “pass the bar.”

Historically, Canada once followed a similar system. Lawyers of that bygone era would laugh today if they heard students were not attending Inns of Court, clerking, and sweeping law office floors after hours.

  • Oral Bar Examination By Judges

After the candidate graduated from apprenticing, he received an oral examination, or proof of good moral character, typically by the state supreme court or similarly situated judges. (Source). The oral and written “Bar Exam” came along hundreds of years later.

MODERNLY: Oral bar exams are ended in the U.S.

  1. Modern Evolution of “Reading”

To this very day, English law students are said to be “reading” their studies.

The Divergence From English Common Law Legal Studies To North American Legal Studies

Studying law was optimally done under lawyer supervision. But in frontier areas, self-study often remained the only legal career path entry method. As noted and discussed later, each state and local jurisdiction had differing approaches to how their lawyers would read the law. However, each approach to becoming a lay lawyer found its genesis under English Common Law.

But troubles here began around 1763, with several united States starting to throw off England’s powerful, central government in or about 1785, having formalized their loose confederation previously, July 4, 1776. Each of the 13 colony’s representatives favored more liberty for English subjects, demanding that the Crown’s individual rights had formerly verified to its Barons were universal.

These dissatisfied colonists threw off the King’s charters and titles, establishing “…New Guards for their future security…,” replacing King George as the protector of their now sovereign realms.

Since each state was sovereign, it derived its just power from our Creator and the consent of those affected by the laws any elected official would pass.

Since our rights come from a higher power, each state’s primary job would be making its own laws, always mindful of protecting freedoms rather than restrict them, favoring “dangerous liberty of peaceful slavery.” (“Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.” – Thomas Jefferson)

In a nutshell, the rebellious colonists believed they were the true standard-bearers of the Magna Charta, its forebearers, and its progeny. Patriot Thomas Paine’s book, Common Sense, proved an architecture of the “Unanimous Declaration.”

It was natural for these rebels to closely follow the British legal education system as closely as possible, improving as needed to avoid insults similar to those visited by extinct Chancery courts. But most states would base their bar admission system in varying degrees upon that existing pre-rebellion.

1872 – England Standardizes Their Legal Education – First Law Schools Were Universities

Ultimately, traditional Inns of Court duties were mainly turned over to university law schools in the 18th-19th Century. The University of Oxford Faculty of Law would first teach standardized law, now the University of Oxford with an 800-year plus history. For a time, however, universities focused on religious academia, whereas Inns focused on real-world practice. We yanks must remember the Norman kings and Crown’s courts spoke French!

For example:

“‘The universities deferred to Latin, the Inns of the Court first to law French and by about 1650, to English.

Cecil Headlam writes:

‘In the reign of Henry VI (1461-1470), the four Inns of Court contained 200 persons each and the ten Inns of Chancery 100 each.”‘ (Source).

There is no real date pinpointing England’s first bar examination or admission. By 1872, a structured bar process became a prerequisite to practicing law in Britania. England still gives the Inns the sole right to call trained students to the bar during a graduation ceremony known as ‘Call Day.’

Prospective students must still join an Inn, and like our California State Bar, Inns head up law student disciplinary functions via a Joint Council of the Inns of Court.

NOTE: By the treaty creating Great Britain, lawyers in Scotland are divided into two groups: solicitors and advocates, maintaining their older Roman Civil Law system.

1873-1875: A New Kind of Legal Education

Ultimately, in the 1873 and 1875 Supreme Court of Judicature Acts would dissolve the snobbier, more elite English and Welch Courts of Chancery entirely, creating their modern, unified High Court of Justice. However, the Brits decided to maintain a Chancery Division succeeding British Courts of Chancery as an equitable judicial body, lessening the importance of studying this devolving law.

Modernly, both Brittain and our states have fused Chancery Courts’ equity into England’s common law principles. Before this, the royal bench was practically monopolized by the clergy. The new policy of promoting men from the Bar stimulated lay professionals’ growth and a gradual secularization of the English legal profession.

In selecting his new justices from among practitioners, Henry III:

  • Could use ecclesiastical or canon lawyers. (mostly clergy members)
  • Resort to using commoner lawyers already now practicing before his royal courts, mostly laymen.

He could fall back on the ecclesiastical or canon lawyers, mostly clergy members, or resort to the common law lawyers. They had been practicing before the royal courts and were predominantly laypeople. The clergy, distrusted by the king, had already been fleeing lay practice. Henry III began using lay lawyers, that is, common law practitioners.

Historical North American Legal Training Compared With English Legal Studies

Naturally, beginning after 1776, things would change. English-American rebels had created their new Republic apart from its motherland. As a separate legal entity, the newly “united States of America” was no longer tied to England. The study of law in several former colonies would evolve into varying models and pupilage methodologies. The Revolution’s dramatic effect on America’s fledgling legal profession was rapid and dramatic.

The rebels’ divergence from the progenitor English bar to the American bar saw a mass exodus of loyalist lawyers, including judges, returning to mother England. The few lawyers remaining in the states had no Inns of the Court system or standardized legal training like in England, where colonists had imported their lawyers from. Naturally, most revolutionaries, suspect lawyers already, saw the legal community as suspect, potentially bringing back central controls and seizing their powderhouses.

Even though revolutionaries weren’t thrilled with lawyers or their former King’s interpretations of English Common Law, almost half the signers of the Unanimous Declaration of Independence were, in fact, attorneys. And lawyers would make up over half Constitutional Convention’s membership years later. As we noted above, the colonists were proud, primarily English. Newfound state institutions would closely follow English law in their courts.

It appears many founders hoped their system would restore ancient, pre-existing rights of Englishmen and other natural laws respecting liberty and freedom from specific government interference. (Learn more about Natural Law Here).

Evolution Of North American Legal Education

Before the mid-1800s

Before the mid-1800s, there were no standardized bar exams per se. Instead of this grand exam that you are studying for, future lawyers-to-be would gain their experience and credentials through apprenticeships, self-studying, and oral exams.

Reading The Law

Although American jurisdictions slowly developed their law schools, post-Revolution legal studies were conducted by “reading for the law,” mostly under the tutelage of a trained lawyer. Like its namesake coined in England, it meant studying from a book. Most people entered the legal profession through an apprenticeship, often under a family member. These apprenticeships required a period of attorney-supervised law office study.

Aspiring Lawyers Given A Bar Exam By a Court?

As discussed, a court or panel of judges would evaluate the candidate’s moral and educational qualifications, lowering them if the student was headed towards America’s western frontier areas. This was the prototypical path many attorneys today scoff about. To them, study hours and good grades are the focus.

Modern Focus is On Graduating Law School?

One or two years of course study materials, understanding legal terms, practice tests, graduating from law school, and a Juris doctorate is everything for many law students.

Having attended law school, completing law school, taking a BARBRI and PMBR course, and paying registration fees, along with a positive moral character determination, you’re off to take the California bar exam. Taking the bar exam without going to law school and only law school experience is something aspiring lawyers of the past would have likely dreamed of as a far easier method of entry into law practice.

It’s not that law school is bad. It’s just that even modern medicine requires a period of apprenticeship. Modern lawyers turned their futures over to academics, many of whom have never even practiced or owned a law practice. Old-timers would laugh at such an arrangement. Going to law school was not possible back then and certainly never a substitute for a supervising attorney. Employers and courts back then would probably ignore a lawyer without law office study training.

No, to skip law school and attend the Inns of Court or Chancery Inn would have been their method of entry into legal practice and would be their first law school of sorts. Back then, they’d take the bar exam without completing law school.

Modern Friction Between American Bar Association (ABA) Schools and Law Reader Programs

Skipping law school wasn’t discussed because law schools were not around. The modern law school alternative shows the different types of evolutions English common law and American common law have undergone since the American revolution.

The challenge presented by a law school and bureaucrats against the traditional method is demonstrated by the fact only a few states even offer a semblance of our historic law society methodology in participation and educating yourself alongside mentors. The American Bar Association helped eliminate law reader programs across the country, and there is some evidence of law school tuition. Fees were used by law schools to deny bar entry to negros.

The Public Fascination With Teachers and Academics?

Although law readers have advantages, different aspects make academia attractive to many consumers. Many people feel the assistance of a law professor and college course before an attorney’s practice is the only viable method to practice law. Most people won’t even be aware of an alternative to law school. Even then, many naysayers feel no JD will limit their career options or the number of job options in their local communities or location they wish to practice law.

Law school graduates need only attend classes and eventually become practicing attorneys. Paying law school tuition to practice law operates as a bar-to-bar entry for many underprivileged folks. Hands-on experience is something most other state bar organizations don’t offer, so it’s a rare path to follow, in my opinion.

Bypassing this without going to law school obviously makes law school graduates upset, so don’t expect to find supervising attorneys to study law under easily. No, it has its disadvantages too. For one, there are no law school scholarships or grant dollars when you seek a law license. Being a committed law apprentice is no easy task. The jobs you get while studying law are your entry into practice, not a list at your law school cafeteria or student lounge.

The dollars you earn will be based upon your business sense, not employment at a law firm. Passing the bar exam is the primary mission of all future legal professionals here.

Studying, Negative Comments, and Passing the Merit-Based Bar Exam Without An Approved Law School Course

The reality is the negativity you will get from others as you go through all the study material. Putting it all together means that only former military vets and highly disciplined, merit-based achievers will stand a chance at victory.

Other states don’t offer a substitute for law school, let alone preparing for the bar or being eligible without a JD. Hold out Wyoming recently eliminated its law study program. So don’t think a national conference of bar examiners is in any rush to start an apprenticeship program in a city near you!

Even after achieving a certain number of study hours, you won’t have a support network as you would have in law school. So if you are not a naturally driven, high achiever, you can forget about becoming a lawyer under the supervision of an attorney.

Even then, don’t expect pay to be taught the art of law. You will have four straight years of arduous study before being admitted to the bar. And along the way, you still must pass the Baby Bar.

Valuable LOSP Resources

Here are some more resources to help you understand. On the other hand, if my writing is boring, you, my colleague, Christina Oatfield, have a fantastic article about avoiding traditional law school. Recently, the New York Times and others have covered stories about Kim Kardashian trying to serve as a lawyer with no credentials.

Note that all we hear today are crickets regarding Kim getting a bar card without going to law school. Does anyone think her act of admitting she cheated to get through school will aid or hurt her chance to become a lawyer with no law school, let alone her opportunity to attend law school? The ethics alone are scary regarding the costs to public trust in her as a practicing attorney or judicial officer hearing a case. This is why legal professionals undergo so much ethics training.

You may also need to seek out other study materials to improve your chances of passing the bar exam without going to law school. Resources follow motivated apprentices. When I see a motivated person, I always help. Remember, depending on how long you pass both exams, it could take at least five years or longer.

Despite the benefits of a law course, many law school graduates face similar problems, so whether you attend law school or not, being eligible to take a test doesn’t mean you’ll pass it.

Fun fact: Apprentices must listen to colleagues and mentors before setting foot in a law school, LOSP, or courtroom. Everyone involved must be positive, and you must have no conflict preventing the apprentice from their goal of being eligible to pursue the challenge.

This means your life must have structure during the LOSP recruit training process. Again, the advantage goes to people who don’t blame others or use race, religion, or sex as a crutch to fail.

1. Americans Who Passed the Bar With No Basic Education Or Law School

  • Q: Can you be a judge without a law degree from an accredited law school?

ANSWER: Yes, you can, and several Supreme Court and state court justices have done that.

  • Q: Do you need a law degree from an accredited law school classroom organization to be president of the United States?

ANSWER: Nope. Check out our below list of famous Americans who became judges, lawyers, and even U.S. presidents, sometimes with zero primary school education.

Top Four American Lawyers With No Law Degree

Patrick Henry: (1736-1799) [No Parochial Education – No Law School]

  • Birthplace: Hanover County, Virginia Colony.
  • Legal Education: Read law (Self-taught approach, studying law possibly a month or less)
  • Law License: April 1760, Williamsburg, VA, after oral examination by “Board of Examiners.”
  • Highest Social Status Achieved: Founding Father, Governor of Virginia.
  • Famous Quotes: Give me liberty, or give me death! (1775).

John Rutledge: (1739-1800) [No Parochial Education – No Law School]


Middle Inns Attendance Records. Founding father, John Rutledge

  • Birthplace: Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Legal Education: Circa 1751 [Need citation] Rutledge began to read law under a joint home guidance tutelage by attorney James Parsons.
  • Legal Education: 1754, Middle Temple records show that 15-year-old John Rutledge was admitted to London’s Middle Temple. (See attached screenshots of Middle Temple Records).
  • Law License: 1760, called to the English bar, soon sailing back to Charleston upon swearing his oath.
  • Law License: 1761 John Rutledge was admitted to the South Carolina Bar.
  • Highest Social Statuses Achieved: Elder brother of Founding Father Edward Rutledge, he chaired the 1787 committee drafting the Constitution. He became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and second Chief Justice. He also served as the first President of South Carolina and later as its first governor after signing the Declaration of Independence.
  • Famous Quotes:So long as we may have an independent Judiciary, the great interests of the people will be safe.”

*John Marshall: (1755-1835) [No Parochial Education – No Law School]

  • Birthplace: Germantown, Virginia.
  • Legal Education: Circa 1780, Marshall was on leave from the army when he received several lectures at William & Mary from George Wythe, read for the law under his tutelage.
  • Law License: In 1780, he was admitted to the Virginia State Bar.
  • Highest Social Statuses Achieved: Fought under George Washington during American Revolution. Associate Supreme Court of the United States, United States (1801-1835), Supreme court, United States (1801-1835)
  • Famous Quotes: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.”

*Author of Marbury v. Madison (1803).

*Abraham Lincoln: (1809-1865) [No Parochial Education – No Law School]

  • Birthplace: Sinking Spring Farm, Hodgenville, Kentucky locale.
  • Legal Education: In 1834, John T. Stuart, a Springfield attorney, encouraged Abraham Lincoln to study law, loaning him law books.

Abe Lincoln Did Not Attend Law School Or Read Law Under a Judicial Officer or Lawyer. No. In rural America, students, including Abe Lincoln, often read the law alone. When our prized president, Honest Abraham Lincoln, became a lawyer, he was required to “obtain certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character.”

This meant an Illinois county court had to stamp their seal, certifying his good, moral character. How that was proved to a court may seem ambiguous today. But back then, our court traditions dictated that good feeling was shown partly by proving you knew the law and meant to keep it well. (Source).

Typically witnesses, including legal peers, would attest, and a court would allow you to “pass into the bar.” Later, when asked by a young man about becoming a lawyer with no law school, Lincoln retorted:If you are absolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already.”

“It is a small matter whether you read with anyone or not; I did not read with anyone . . . always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln – 1855 letter. (Source). This American practice evolved primarily through necessity because few trained lawyers existed in several states.

  • Law License: In 1836, Honest Abe was admitted to the Illinois bar, and he relocated to remote Springfield, practicing law under the supervision of John T. Stuart. Lincoln was aggressive, stating he handled “every kind of business that could come before a prairie lawyer.”
  • Highest Social Status Achieved: U.S. President No. 16. (1861-1865).
  • Famous Quotes: “Tact: the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

*Famous for freeing slaves, suspending the right of Habeus Corpus, instituting martial law, and installing unelected Southern state judges and state representatives to pass laws restricting state’s rights in the confederated southern united States. Stage-actor John Wilkes Boothe assassinated her.

Can You Become An Attorney With No Undergrad Or Law School Today?

Yes. The truth is few states allow applicants to skip any formal education. No states allow pure independent study like in Abe Lincoln’s days, and a handful of states, including California, allow you to skip higher legal education classes altogether. Below, I will differentiate between state law reader/apprenticeship programs, starting with requiring no undergrad diploma or law school courses.


This is the number one question we receive daily at our personal injury law firm, much to my staff’s consternation. How do I find a lawyer or judge to study law under? An established lawyer/judge or firm will not always want to accept the disadvantages of training someone for free. So finding a sponsoring attorney to help with this time-consuming and distracting study-teaching process remains vital.

It would help if you offered these mentors something more to make yourself a valuable, indispensable, loyal, reliable commodity. In reality, you must focus on modeling yourself after an ancient Knights Templar Squire receiving teaching in the arts of war and religious laws! You carry your knight’s lance for use in the joust.

As a legal apprentice, be prepared to carry your supervising judge or lawyer’s briefcase, laptop, easel, movie projector screen, case notes, files, and boxes of evidence.

Be prepared to field parlays with insurance adjusters seeking arbitration with your knight as he does battle with opposing counsel on the other line in furtherance of his duties to his king (his client). I would look to my leadership example as a Marine or biker club.

When I sought a Knight to squire under, I humbled myself in fealty, for although I may have had superiority over these masters in some areas, they were offering me the stuff of legend. To become a holy crusader for my client’s rights and service before the bar, what greater calling can there be for those called?

How you do that and comply with your state bar guidelines is up to you.

States Requiring No Undergrad or Law School Courses To Study Law In A Law Office

Law Office study states in North America include Vermont, West VA, VA, WA, CA, Alaska, Maine, and New York.

Only four states in the U.S. offer complete lawyer apprenticeship programs (no law school required), including:

  • California (No undergrad required),
  • Vermont,
  • Virginia,
  • Washington.
  • California Is Particularly Gracious Towards Gifted Individuals With No Undergrad

Of those few states, only one doesn’t require an undergrad, California. However, California does waive this requirement; candidates who demonstrate through a CLEP (Discussed below) test have the knowledge and skill to enroll. Contrary to misinformation online, West Virginia requires law school before entering legal work in their particular area of law and legal apprenticeship program.

  • California Requires Legal Apprentices to Take and Pass the Dreaded Baby Bar Exam!

True, each pupil must pass a First-Year Law Student’s Exam after a lawyer-supervised study period. Pundits claim you must attend an ABA law school even if you die, with its less than 12% average pass rate.

Or you’ll risk failing the general bar, they say. Of all the programs, the only one Abe Lincoln and several other legal greats above could’ve studied law under is California’s Law Office Study Program (LOSP).

California Law Office Study Program Admission Requirements For Students With No College – Four-Year Program

Cal Bar Logo. These are the people who administer the LOSP in Los Angeles.

Going to law school has its advantages. But Abe Lincoln would have taken the CLEP, as he had zero basics, let alone higher legal education. That means only CA and not Illinois would have been his only avenue to the bar exam without going to law school.

Open to tutoring judge and attorney supervisors, California’s Law Office Study Program (“LOSP “) REQUIRES Several BASIC RULES For General Applicants With No College*

  • Residents ONLY: This program exists for residents only. (See PDF On Residency Proof Here).
  • Pass The CLEP: California LOSP candidates must provide the Office of Admissions “Demonstrated equivalent intellectual achievement proof of an AA or College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) certification. For LOSP candidates possessing at least “Two years of college work (Which includes an AA degree), or higher, no CLEP exam passage is needed to continue learning to become about without going to law school under your supervising attorney.

Typical LOSP Steps For All Applicants With Or Without College?

  • LSAT: Not required.
  • Meet Minimum Age: [Citation needed]
  • Find Your Supervising Mentor: Applicants to LOSP must study under a lawyer or judge “admitted to the active practice of law in California and be in good standing for a minimum of five years.”
  • Fee: $158 Registration fee. It would help if you mailed the State Bar your Notice of Intent to read law under your supervising attorney to the State Bar address indicated. Your Notice of Intent will include a sometimes non-refundable $158 registration fee.
  • Curriculum: You must transmit your outline or proposed course of instruction to the State Bar.
  • 18-Hour Weekly Minimum/4 Years Study Period: 18 hours per week study in a law office (or judge’s chambers) during regular business hours for four years.
  • 5 Hours Minimum Attorney Instruction Period: Of the above 18 hours, the attorney or judge must personally supervise the applicant at least five hours a week. (See Rules of the State Bar of California (Title 4, Division 1 Admissions Rules, Rule 4.29(A(1)(2)(3))(B)(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)).

Whether or not virtual meetings/study/personal supervision count as supervising attorney or independent study in a law office or judges chambers apparently depends on whether the court or law firm conducts business regularly online. Clearly, students cannot be studying law in open court, for example. We have reached out to Nathalie Hope, and I Hope she has the answer for any interested supervising attorney.

  • Bi-Annual Reports and $105 Report Fees: You must submit bi-annual progress reports to the State Bar along with a $105 fee per report. (detailing what you studied).
  • Monthy Attorney Exams: You must submit copies of your monthly exams to the State Bar. (Copies of attorney graded, written exams).
  • Baby Bar Exam Application: An application to take the First-Year Law Students’ Examination in June must be submitted by April 1. An application to take the examination in October must be submitted by August 1. Applications received after these deadlines and on May 15 or September 15 are subject to a late fee. Applications are not accepted after those dates. (See PDF)
  • Pass The Exam:Law readers” must take and pass the First-Year Law Students Exam (FYLSX) (aka “Baby Bar Exam”) within the first three (3) attempts. (known as the infamous “Baby Bar.”) (covering contracts, torts, criminal law essays, and Multiple Choice questions. This test is given each year in June and October at test centers designated by the State Bar). Next, the Bar Candidate must, However, in that case, only receive credit for law office study for the first year and not for the study when retaking the Exam the previous three (3) attempts.
  • General Bar Exam Application: Rule 4.61 Applications for the California Bar Examination: (A)Applications … are available March 1 for the July and October 1 for the February examinations. An application must be submitted no later than April 1 for the July examination or November 1 for the February examination to avoid a late fee imposition. Applications received after these deadlines, and by June 1 or January 1 are subject to late fees. Applications are not accepted after those dates.
  • Pass The General Bar Exam: The Bar Examination is given each year in February and July at test centers designated by the State Bar Exam. (See PDF)
  • CAVEAT! An applicant who must pass the First-Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX) will not receive credit for any law study until the applicant passes the examination.
  • CAVEAT: Third Try Must pass Exam? An applicant ….does do not wash… within three consecutive administrations . . . but … subsequently gives… will [only] receive credit for … first year. Pass Exam: California requires “law readers” to take and pass the First-Year Law Student’s Exam (FYLSX), known as the infamous Baby Bar Exam and CAVEAT: All reports must include the Law Office Study Report cover sheet and must be submitted by certified mail with return receipt requested or delivered in-person to either the Los Angeles or San Francisco Office of Admissions. (Source – California State Bar Admissions).


LOSP applicants without proof of two years or more college work must satisfy the Cal Bar’s general education requirements before officially commencing law study. Student hopefuls must attain 50 or higher test scores on three College Board-administered CLEP examination topics. (See Rule 4.25(A) of Cal Bar Admissions Rules, including Business and Professions Code Section 6060(c)(1) et seq.)

What CLEP Topics Must I Study And Pass To Gain LOSP Acceptance?

Under the Composition and Literature category, you must take and pass the following:

  • College Composition, plus:

Two other examinations from the following subjects:

  • Composition and Literature. (Humanities examination only)
  • Foreign Languages.
  • History and Social Science.
  • Science and Mathematics.
  • Business.

Each exam corresponds to receiving full-year equivalent college courses (six semester hours each*) or four other examinations designed to fit with semester courses (three semester hours each*)

Sending Your CLEP Scores to Cal Bar

Applicants seeking a general education evaluation to pursue law study under the Committee of Bar Examiners’ Law Office Study Program must instruct the College Board to send official score reports to the State Bar’s Office of Admissions in Los Angeles; 845 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017-2515.

The score recipient code for the California State Bar Office of Admissions is 7165. Copies of informational brochures and registration forms are available at local colleges and universities or by contacting:

  • The College Board; P.O. Box 6600; Princeton, NJ 08541-6600; 800-257-9558;
  • Applicants should contact the College Board address above to receive their summary of credit recommendations for the CLEP Examinations and further information.

Follow the other steps above upon meeting the general education standards. Also, the Golden State offers a Certified Law Student Program (See below) (I co-chaired three trials doing this) and a Practical Training of Law Students (PTLS) program certifying law students to provide attorney-supervised legal services. Find out how to apply here.

Q: What Are Some Important California LOSP Rules For Lawyers And Supervising Judges?

Answer: Under 4.29(B)(6), a judge or supervising lawyer may “… not personally supervise more than two applicants simultaneously.” (4.29(B)(6)).

Q: Certified Law Students – Different Rules For Different Supervising Lawyers?

  • A:Practical Training of Law Students” Program. (PTLS).

LOSP students can register as certified law students after passing their FYLSX (amounting to 270 hours of study). But enrollees must provide satisfactory proof the supervising lawyer or judge has taught them or is teaching them “Evidence and Civil Procedure courses.” Here is where you, the law-certified student, can legally play the role of supervising attorney, with conditions.

Generally Permitted Student Student Activities:

  • General Attorney Supervision: Certified law students can “… negotiate for and on behalf of the client …” (Ex: Negotiate with the liability insurance adjusted and learn case intake.)
  • Direct Supervision: Appear on behalf of the client in depositions. (I learned evidence doing this kind of stuff).
  • Direct Supervision: Appear on behalf of the client in any public trial, hearing, arbitration, or proceeding or before any arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer, to the extent approved by the such arbitrator, court, public agency, referee, magistrate, commissioner, or hearing officer. (I co-chaired three civil law cases using this procedure).
  • No Attorney Supervision: Appear on behalf of a government agency in the prosecution of criminal actions classified as infractions or other such minor criminal offenses with a maximum penalty or a fine equal to the maximum fine for violations, including any public trial: “(A) Subject to approval by the court … presiding at a such public trial, and (B) … designated attorney has approved in writing … and is immediately available to attend the proceeding.” (No deputy, you can’t go golfing with the presiding judge today!) (See California Rules of Court, Rule 9.42 (d)(4)(A)(2)).

Agencies have different rules. For example, non-government-employed lawyers may supervise no more than five students law students. But criminal prosecutors may supervise up to 25 certified law students. (See attached “Practical Training of Law Students Program Declaration by Supervising Attorney”).

Point of Special Interest: This rule may or may not abolish State Bar Admissions Rule 4.29(B)(6), allowing only two students under attorney supervision concerning specific practical tasks.

What Are Some Tips For California LOSP Supervising Judges And Lawyers

  • How Do I Develop A Curriculum For My LOSP Pupil?

I have constantly received calls from judges and lawyers since Kim Kardashian made my LOSP famous. And these otherwise brilliant jurists are perplexed as to what they must do. I have many tips, which I will cover in later articles.

But if you are a severe mentor, you will provide lectures and send your student for open talks in law schools like UWLA. For your PI lawyers, CAALA and CAOC are great places to learn torts, evidence, and procedure. Immediately have your students review PMBR audio lessons and order copies of released bar exams and FYSLX. When law students graduate, they use the same tools to pass the bar exam.

That will make up the bulk of your testing materials. As far as testing goes, that will be up to the supervisor. My mentors preferred using released bar exams, including MCLEs, with me taking them over and over and over until I was smoking it! I also got my hands on some used BARBRI books.

What Are Some Important Learning Tips For LOSP Apprentices?

  • Order copies of every released model bar exam you can get your hands on.
  • Obtain BARBI and PMBR materials.
  • Contact Paul Pfau at Cal Bar Tutorial Review.
  • Look for outlines of law students and learn to create systems using these.
  • Learn how to tackle the problem-solving speed exam known as the FYLSX and General Bar Exam over the next four years.

Do Exempt FYLSX Takers Skew LOSP Pass Rates To Appear Lower?

Maybe. Under Rule 4.57, certain applicants exempt from taking the FYLSX can still take the FYLSX with no adverse effect on their taking the General Exam, pass or fail. (There may be disparities between LOSP pass rates taking the FYLSX and exempt applicants taking the exam. So the actual pass rates of LOSP grads may never be publicly known)

  • Why would exempt law students want to take an exam they don’t have to take?

The junior bar covers contracts, torts, and criminal law. (to a lesser degree, it covers remedies and procedures). In other words, it can give you a good idea of your expected performance on the General Bar Exam and give you a little dry run without going to law school before the entire bar exam.

What About Foreigners And LOSP?

Foreigners can also gain admission under certain conditions under Rule 4.30 (A),(B),(1),(2), and (3) not personally supervise more than two applicants simultaneously for this form of legal education.

Conclusion – Law Office Study Is A Great Way Of Becoming A Lawyer Without Law School in California and a Few States

Success in this form of intensive tutelage requires tenacity, focus, perseverance, valuable time, great oratory and writing skills, and motivation to succeed; as noted above, law school does little to prepare you for practicing law or passing the bar exam. The reality is law school is excellent for educating some people.

So, could you not knock it? But studying law under a lawyer who is already doing what you want to do, is the same modeling technique taught by high achievers, including the late Horatio Alger, Zig Ziglar, and Norman Vincent Peale. In reality, those involved in the positive thinking communities will always fare better than those with a background as excuse-makers who focus on disadvantages. Bookmarkk this page as your future legal training resource for you or your organization. At least you will have some knowledge and skills in explaining the classroom reality of legal apprenticeships 101.

Accident lawyer swearing into the bar.

About the author: Michael Ehline runs Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He passed the bar examination in 2005. Michael works in Torrance and Downtown Los Angeles and commutes to several other locations during the week. He began his LOSP apprenticeship in 2000 and became a sworn practicing attorney in 2005.

Michael externed under an Appellate Court justice in 2004, studied law, and worked in paralegal and law clerk jobs under multiple supervising attorneys and organizations. We hope this website material and advice gives you the skills to navigate any aspects you may face before and after you have completed your course of legal studies.

Michael feels he is at an advantage, having pursued an alternative foreign to many in our modern society. If you think you have the responsibility, structure, and drive to progress in this law society, consider being a law clerk. Write a resume that will suit your goal of becoming a lawyer without law school. After you write your letter and it’s completed, there is no limit on who you can email it to or the interest you may garner.

And remember, it’s not the number of times you take the test that counts; it’s a fact you never gave up that matters with these apprenticeships and many aspects of life. No matter your location, use what you have read about law school graduates and internships to inspire you. Michael’s story is intended to help less fortunate people with no dollars to pay tuition to become lawyers without going to law school.

Read More »Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Lawyer Without Law School

The History of Law School 101

The History of Law School 101 covers the law office study programs and the divergence from traditional law study into academic organizations run by the political left as part of the legal industrial complex. Did Racism Play A Role In Eliminating Traditional Law Reading To Gaining Bar Entry? There is no direct evidence that every state eliminated Law Reader programs to keep blacks from bar admissions. I can’t find the exact date the reading law was abolished in most states.… Read More »The History of Law School 101

Tied down with law

Is This the Best Route for My Education?

The field of law can be a difficult one to master. It can seem that only those that go through law school will ultimately be able to argue a case in front of a judge one day. However, due to the foresight of California law, the Law Office Study Program may allow you the opportunity to prove yourself and further your career. You can enter the program even if you are not a college graduate. However, you may have some… Read More »Is This the Best Route for My Education?