Lawyers haven’t always gone to law school to become one. Previously, to become a lawyer, many went through apprenticeships.
Priceonomics.com has a great write-up on this alternative method. While those choosing this method are low, it’s still happening and saving those who go through the program hundreds of thousands in student loan bills.
Click on the link above to read the whole article, but here is just a small snippet:
A select few, however, have completely bypassed these steps. Several U.S. states offer a little-known alternative path to the bar exam room: “reading the law” — or serving as an apprentice in the office of a practicing attorney or judge.
Last year, out of 83,963 bar exam takers, only 60 were apprentices. A mere 17 succeeded in passing the bar exam and becoming eligible to practice law. It is a long, difficult road, requiring four years of mentorship and thousands of hours of self-led work, but when completed, it can save a prospective lawyer hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt.
Today, only four states — California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington — allow aspiring lawyers to take the bar exam without going to law school. Instead, they are given the option to apprentice with a practicing attorney or judge. (New York, Maine and Wyoming offer an apprenticeship alternative as well, but also require some law school.)
Since 1996, 1,142 apprentices have taken the bar exam; only 305 have passed. Likely, this can be attributed to the nature of an apprenticeship: in a law office study, an apprentice is working under one lawyer, who usually has a specific focus, while law school covers a much wider breadth of topics.