Shortcut to Being a Lawyer? Don’t go to Law School.


I think we can safely say that anyone who has taken the LSAT has at least entertained the idea of going to law school. In fact, when you’re taking that lovely test, you have to write a passage on your test form in painful, painful cursive saying you are taking the test to go to law school.

But I’d also wager that, given the choice, most of you would avoid law school entirely if it meant you could become a lawyer sooner. Anything to start stacking that cheddar a little earlier, eh?

Well, if this guy’s lawsuit goes well, maybe that option isn’t too far off.

Clarence K. Carter, a former Indiana prisoner, is suing the state of Indiana, claiming that he should be allowed to take the Bar exam without going to law school. Carter’s argument hinges on the idea that the law requiring law school is unconstitutional.

I’m no constitutional lawyer, but I’d say he’s got a fair point. I’d have to guess that the argument will hinge upon what is defined as the ultimate arbiter for becoming a lawyer: law school graduation or Bar exam passage. Everything I know about the process would indicate that it is Bar passage, and that law school is simply an enforced study hall. In that case, why can’t Carter (or, really, anyone) take the Bar?

If the exam is so difficult that it requires three years of preparation before one can think about taking it, then why not allow anyone to take it on the assumption that there’s not a shot in hell that they’d pass? Or is there a real fear that people could pass it with a few months of rigorous study?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I generally don’t feel that restrictions on employment opportunities, especially in a service industry, are a great idea. If people pass the Bar and don’t know what they’re doing, they probably won’t be hired by a big firm or retained by individual clients. If they do pass and do know what they’re doing, then they’ll probably do pretty well professionally.

What do you think? Is the requirement of law school constitutional? Is there any difference between this guy’s lawsuit and Maurice Clarett’s? Let me hear it.

6 Responses

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  3. Law school good, bar exam bad says:

    Yes, you should have to go to law school. If we’re going to get rid of anything, make it the bar exam, a useless pretext for yet another group of companies and institutions to jack another few thousand bucks from each law student. Really, does anyone remember or use a quarter of what we learned studying for the bar exam? Answer: no. Is there anything about the bar exam that distinguishes between people who are competent to practice law and those who aren’t that hasn’t already been shown by getting through a J.D. program at an ABA school? Answer: no.

  4. Dave says:

    Law school good,

    I’d say that you can substitute “Bar exam” for every time you said “law school” and “law school” for every time you said “Bar exam” and have a similar argument. Except law school costs about 100k more than the most expensive bar preparation program.


  5. Rachelle says:

    Michael Ehline, a California lawyer has been advising people for years on how to practice law without a law degree (or college degree for that matter), by passing the bar and doing additional apprentice type training.

    Apparently it’s feasible in 7 states. But Law School isn’t about what they teach you as much as it is about the network IMO.

  6. both needed says:

    the bar exam is not equal to law school, in my understanding. one teaches you how to b a lawyer – the skills and the other tests the laws. both pieces of information are necessary to b good in the profession. tho not as hard or full of as many requirements, there are other service industries, like beauticians, that require school and a license. teachers also have to take a credential program AND pass the CSET. nurses go to school as well. and doctors have to take a test every 10 yrs to b “board certified” as well as do MANY yrs of slave-ish labor. 3 yrs and 1 exam doesn’t sound so bad. and i want to know that the ppl i work with and, if i need it, the ppl that i hire are well qualified not only in the written word of the law, which is tested by the exam, but also the methods of application and the administration of the law, as taught in school.

    getting rid of one or the other as a requirement to practice makes no sense since both aspects are necessary for a successful practice

    have a wonderful day,
    both needed

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