Who Says a Lawyer Needs Law School? (Wash. Post)

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; 10:40 PM

WASHINGTON — Rebecca Valois is working to become a lawyer _ without setting foot in a law school.

She’s studied for three years at the private Virginia practice of her mother-in-law, Judith Valois, who was admitted to the state bar in 1986 after getting her legal education from her husband.

They are “law readers” _ people who study law in offices or judges’ chambers rather than classrooms.

California, Vermont, Virginia and Washington allow law readers to take bar exams after three or four years in apprenticeships registered with the state. Three other states _ New York, Maine and Wyoming _ let non-law school graduates take bar exams if they have a combination of office study and law school experience.

Fewer than 150 aspiring lawyers are getting their legal educations in programs that require no law school whatsoever, according to the bars of the states that allow the practice. By comparison, more than 140,000 students attend law schools approved by the American Bar Association, and thousands more attend schools not approved by the ABA. (more…)