Being an attorney is a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding in many senses. Most prospective lawyers take a traditional approach to becoming a lawyer. That is, they go and get a four-year university degree and head to law school for an additional three years.
While this is the route most take, it is very expensive and time consuming. I know. I did it. But there’s another approach one can take in an effort to becoming a lawyer. Instead of going straight from college to law school, they could go through the legal apprenticeship program.
This program allows someone to study under a judge or an attorney for four years. After they meet the study requirements, they can basically bypass law school and go straight to take the bar exam. Once the bar exam is passed, they can become licensed to be an attorney in the state of California.
Another good thing about this program is there are no specific prerequisites to take before entering. And since it is a self-study, four-year program, you can be working or doing what you like or need to do while studying to become a lawyer.
While this apprenticeship program allows you to bypass law school, it does require that you take and pass the First Year Law Students’ Exam (FYLSE), also known as the “Baby Bar” following your first year of studies. Unlike the actual California State Bar Exam, the Baby Bar is a one day test that consists of four one-hour essay questions and 100 multiple-choice questions and covers only three subjects(Contracts, Torts, and Criminal Law).
The Baby Bar is held in June and October of each year, and you have 3 opportunities to pass it to keep all your study credits. Should you not pass the Baby Bar after 3 attempts, you can continue trying until you pass, however you will only be able to retain your first year’s worth of study credit. After you have passed the Baby Bar with 4 years of study credit, then you will be eligible to take the California State Bar Exam. But remember, this program should sufficiently prepare you for that test, which is on
If you’re wondering whether or not you can land a job as an attorney through the Apprenticeship program, the answer is yes. and without a law degree, the answer is yes. Because completing the Apprenticeship program requires that you pass the California State Bar, upon passing it, you become fully eligible to practice law in the state of California.
Just remember, while in the program you have to be under the supervision of a judge or senior attorney but once you are an attorney, no one asks where you got your degree from or how you got your degree. They just want to know that you can help them.
There is one drawback, however, to going through this program. Since it is a California-specific program, it is not valid if you choose to practice law outside of the state. It is only good California.
Also, in order to be successful you need to be extremely self disciplined. There is no professor yelling at you to get your papers turned in or study for the next test. You need to do that all on your own.
Law school not only has professors and assignments, but also classmates keeping you going and keeping your morale up. There is a ton of structure in Law School, whereas there isn’t in the Apprenticeship program. So, keep that in mind when deciding how to proceed in becoming a lawyer.