Challenges Faced in Becoming a Lawyer Without Law School

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

Ms. Carter
to michael

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Law Office Study and Marketability as an Attorney

Below is a comment from a person about the Law Office Study Program (“LOSP”) and marketability as an attorney. Her law professor warned her that she may have a hard time getting work without a law school degree, or that she won’t be taken seriously if she pursues the LOS. All I can say is those who can do and those who can’t teach. I am doing very well as a California injury lawyer. Better than many lawyers I know. This is because I am a go-getter, so model yourself after someone like me, and you’ll do just fine.

If you want to follow the so-called “traditional model” and work for someone else (e.g., make someone else rich), then do what your law professor implies. 🙂


I found your blog about becoming a lawyer without law school. I have
some questions, and I hope you can at least point me in the right

I started at law school in ****, but I left after one semester
b/c of personal issues. I had stellar grades through undergrad and law school, as well a good LSAT score. I have no doubts about my ability to pass the mini-bar and bar.

Now I am getting ready to return to school in January, but my boss
wants me to do the LOSP. He is willing to supervise me and works in
my field of law.

Below is an email from one of my old professors, and his
concerns reflect mine: marketability. Will a resume without a law
school (not to mention a top 20 law school) seriously hurt me
professionally? I realize that you are successful now, but you also
seem to be a diamond in the rough. I don’t have aspirations to work
at a huge firm, I just want to support my family and make a decent


Subject: RE: what if i don’t go back to law school?
To: ****************

I don’t know. I don’t know of anyone who has gone the apprentice
route. My main concern would be marketability. While you may not
want a big law firm job, many other possible employers would also
likely refuse to consider a candidate that didn’t go to law school.
You may cut yourself off from many potential non-big firm jobs. My
guess is that most people who go down that apprentice path are people
who don’t have the option to go to law school (i.e., no grades/no LSAT
scores/no admission into accredited schools). I would think that many
employers would assume you went down that path for similar reasons.

That said, it would obviously be cheaper in the short run. But I’d
just be somewhat concerned about what kind of job you might be able to
land after passing the bar if you had no law school on your resume.

Law Office Study Question From China About How to Become a Lawyer With No Law School

Below is a recent e-mail I received from a student studying abroad in Communist China. I asked permission of the poster, Mr. Yerger, and will respond to the question in advance as follows:

Yes, so long as you have the equivalent of two years college, or take and pass the CLEP, you are eligible to read for the law in California. Whether or not the committee of bar examiners will accept an LLM from China is an open question. I would contact Nathalie Hope at the California State Bar.

Even if it is not acceptable, just purchase the CLEP crash course books and take the CLEP exams required for admission to LOSP. You should have no problem acing the CLEP with your high level of education.

Michael Ehline,

I had recently read your article on taking the Bar w/o having a JD.
I am currently living in China and have been for 4 years now. I have high level of Chinese language ( speak , read , write)and am studying for my LLM(in Chinese business Law) in Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). I am looking to do exactly what you have stated in your article.

I also have an opportunity to “read law” at a firm in Shenzhen, China that deals with WFOE, joint venture companies doing business in China.

In your opinion, obtaining a LLM from CUHK and “Reading law” you think will be enough to pursue the Bar? From your article, it seems so.

This Fast track in appealing to me, as i am 28 now and only recently became financially stable to work on these things.

Thank you for your time,

Jamon Yerger
ABLE Battery
International Purchase Manager
+86 13670191120
Shenzhen, China 518110

Just keep in mind that you will still need to clerk for four years UNDER A CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY, while you are reading for the law in California.
How to Become a Lawyer with no Law School.

The CLEP and Law Office Study

The CLEP is only required if you do not have the equivalent of a AA degree. At least when I took the exam those were the rules.

Follow Up On What Attorneys Teach Law Office Study in California

Thank you for reading my blog about how to become an attorney in California. I am receiving an inordinate number of calls from people asking where they can find a lawyer to teach them on the LOSP. Although my blog covers that, people still insist on telephoning me and it is getting out of control. Please be advised. Send e-mails, call law firms, and make it happen for yourself.

Learn self reliance and get your name out there. That is what I did. I wish you the best in your journey to becoming a lawyer without law school.