Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

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lochnessrunning

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Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby lochnessrunning » Tue May 21, 2019 11:33 am

I've been accepted to several T14 schools. But am considering not going to law school and instead taking the route of becoming a lawyer through "reading the law" (a legal apprenticeship). Specifically, California's Law Office Study Program. [External links redacted] And I'm curious if others have chosen the legal apprenticeship route in lieu of law school. If so, what are your thoughts on legal apprenticeships vs law school?

My baseline thinking is the cost of law school is so expensive (not worth the cost) and after talking with many people in the legal field, law school doesn't seem to be the best place to acquire legal skills (and so neither worth the time investment). Which makes me think a reading the law apprenticeship is a smart and financially-wise way to achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer. I understand there's a certain amount of status that comes with a JD from a T14 school. But this is not big factor for me because I'm confident in my abilities to do good work and build a network with or without a JD.

Would appreciate any perspective others might have. Thanks!
Last edited by QContinuum on Tue May 21, 2019 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: External links redacted.

Calibrazy

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby Calibrazy » Tue May 21, 2019 12:50 pm

I'm a student, so not an expert by any means, but I imagine the decision will hinge on (1) what are the most likely/common options are available to those who read the law and (2) whether those career options line up with your goals. I'm pretty confident that if you want to work in corporate law (or biglaw in general) reading the law is not a viable path. This is a total shot in the dark but I'd speculate that your best outcome for reading the law is probably going solo (which seems like two full time jobs and involves doing all sorts of work you may not be interested in to stay afloat during your early years) or working for an employer you were already at but now doing so in a legal or JD-advantage setting; I really am ignorant as to this so don't take my word for it.

As to the legal skills: if you're doing it "right" you're not going to law school for the skills; you're going because you are using law school as a means to achieve a desired legal position (or type of legal position) and you choose your school accordingly. For example YLS--from what my friend there tells me--is poor in terms of teaching it's student's legal skills. I go to another preftigious law school and it's definitely been very mediocre in terms of legal skills I've learned as well as knowledge of the law I've attained (and the crazy part is I'm not doing poorly in school). In reality, people that graduate from YLS will have the best options in terms of legal positions with my school following not too far behind. All that's to say you need you don't choose your legal education based on the skills you want to (and most likely won't) attain; you choose your school because it's the most viable route to do X or Y.

Note: there is something to be said about not incurring a shit ton of debt just to do biglaw however, because you'll find out it sucks and then you'll need to do it to repay all the money you borrowed so you could do biglaw which is pretty depressing imo

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby Wubbles » Tue May 21, 2019 1:00 pm

... Kim?

cavalier1138

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue May 21, 2019 2:32 pm

lochnessrunning wrote:But this is not big factor for me because I'm confident in my abilities to do good work and build a network with or without a JD.


And what kind of job do you think you'll have as a result of your good work and network? Because if the answer isn't "solo practitioner" or "lawyer practicing in the small firm that took me on as an apprentice," then you need to talk to lawyers who understand the reality of legal hiring.

lochnessrunning

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby lochnessrunning » Wed May 22, 2019 2:53 pm

Calibrazy wrote:I'm a student, so not an expert by any means, but I imagine the decision will hinge on (1) what are the most likely/common options are available to those who read the law and (2) whether those career options line up with your goals. I'm pretty confident that if you want to work in corporate law (or biglaw in general) reading the law is not a viable path. This is a total shot in the dark but I'd speculate that your best outcome for reading the law is probably going solo (which seems like two full time jobs and involves doing all sorts of work you may not be interested in to stay afloat during your early years) or working for an employer you were already at but now doing so in a legal or JD-advantage setting; I really am ignorant as to this so don't take my word for it.

As to the legal skills: if you're doing it "right" you're not going to law school for the skills; you're going because you are using law school as a means to achieve a desired legal position (or type of legal position) and you choose your school accordingly. For example YLS--from what my friend there tells me--is poor in terms of teaching it's student's legal skills. I go to another preftigious law school and it's definitely been very mediocre in terms of legal skills I've learned as well as knowledge of the law I've attained (and the crazy part is I'm not doing poorly in school). In reality, people that graduate from YLS will have the best options in terms of legal positions with my school following not too far behind. All that's to say you need you don't choose your legal education based on the skills you want to (and most likely won't) attain; you choose your school because it's the most viable route to do X or Y.

Note: there is something to be said about not incurring a shit ton of debt just to do biglaw however, because you'll find out it sucks and then you'll need to do it to repay all the money you borrowed so you could do biglaw which is pretty depressing imo


> if you're doing it "right" you're not going to law school for the skills; you're going because you are using law school as a means to achieve a desired legal position (or type of legal position) and you choose your school accordingly. For example YLS--from what my friend there tells me--is poor in terms of teaching it's student's legal skills.

I think this is a big problem of the legal industry, and which is in part what attracts me to Reading The Law. I'm not interested in attending an expensive social club, and this is what law schools seem to have become. I'm interested in acquiring concrete legal skills that'll make me a useful lawyer. Also, while I respect the way you view law school — as a means to help you achieve a desired legal position — this amounts to "pay to play" or buying a brand to achieve status. And I believe status can be achieved in many ways, not solely by buying membership in an expensive social club like law school. At any rate, thank you for your thoughtful response. I have much to think about. Will see what others think [External link redacted]
Last edited by QContinuum on Wed May 22, 2019 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: External link redacted.

QContinuum

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby QContinuum » Wed May 22, 2019 3:04 pm

lochnessrunning wrote:I'm interested in acquiring concrete legal skills that'll make me a useful lawyer.

What kind of lawyer do you want to be (beyond "useful")?

lochnessrunning wrote:And I believe status can be achieved in many ways, not solely by buying membership in an expensive social club like law school.

Realistically, you're not going to be able to upend the way the entire legal job market works via a one-man/woman rebellion.

lochnessrunning wrote:Will see what others think [External link redacted]

Please stop advertising other sites in every post. I'm beginning to suspect you're here not to seek genuine advice but simply to promote your site.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby Calibrazy » Wed May 22, 2019 3:18 pm

lochnessrunning wrote:I think this is a big problem of the legal industry, and which is in part what attracts me to Reading The Law. I'm not interested in attending an expensive social club, and this is what law schools seem to have become. I'm interested in acquiring concrete legal skills that'll make me a useful lawyer. Also, while I respect the way you view law school — as a means to help you achieve a desired legal position — this amounts to "pay to play" or buying a brand to achieve status. And I believe status can be achieved in many ways, not solely by buying membership in an expensive social club like law school. At any rate, thank you for your thoughtful response. I have much to think about. Will see what others think


OK, just be wary that those concrete skills won't do you much good if you never have access to the jobs you want because you knowingly went against the grain of legal hiring. If you are interested in opening a solo practice or working for the solo/small firm you apprenticed for, then go ahead; reading the law may serve your goals well. If you are interested in working in biglaw, or a federal agency, or a plaintiff's firm that handles interesting matters, or being in-house at a large corporation, or most other highly sought after legal positions, then reading the law will be an enormous waste of your time.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed May 22, 2019 3:59 pm

lochnessrunning wrote:I think this is a big problem of the legal industry


Ok. But since you're not making hiring decisions, your opinion doesn't have much of an impact.

Law school is not about training you to practice. It's about training you to think like a lawyer. Would a three-year apprenticeship system work better? Maybe it would in some ways. But again, since I'm not actually in a position to effect that kind of change, it doesn't really matter whether I believe that to be the case.

In other words, be a conscientious objector if you like. Just don't expect that to land you a job.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby albanach » Wed May 22, 2019 4:59 pm

Calibrazy wrote:As to the legal skills: if you're doing it "right" you're not going to law school for the skills; you're going because you are using law school as a means to achieve a desired legal position (or type of legal position) and you choose your school accordingly. For example YLS--from what my friend there tells me--is poor in terms of teaching it's student's legal skills. I go to another preftigious law school and it's definitely been very mediocre in terms of legal skills I've learned as well as knowledge of the law I've attained (and the crazy part is I'm not doing poorly in school).


I'm not sure how someone halfway through their 1L year can assess whether they have learned useful legal skills. The fact is that top school educate their students in a way that prepares them for biglaw - a legal system that's geared to training its own recruits. Lower ranked schools spend more time on core subjects trying to maximize their bar passage rate.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby nixy » Wed May 22, 2019 6:12 pm

I think the legal apprenticeship is a terrible idea if you want any kind of traditional legal job (i.e. anything other than going solo in a niche where you already have a built in client base). First, your training will only be as good as the person/office you apprentice with and it will be a limited perspective that you’ll get. Second, my understanding is that people taking this route have a terrible time passing the bar (California is one of the toughest bars to pass). Third, it will definitely be seen as a negative. I worked in a market with an attorney who had done this, and s/he was widely considered an idiot, actually was an absolute idiot, and everyone attributed that to the fact that they hadn’t gone to law school. That may not be fair, but that doesn’t make it untrue. Sure, if they’d been a brilliant attorney I’m sure the take would have being impressed someone who didn’t go to law school could do so well. But it still seems like a way to set up entirely unnecessary barriers for yourself.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby Calibrazy » Wed May 22, 2019 8:40 pm

albanach wrote:
Calibrazy wrote:As to the legal skills: if you're doing it "right" you're not going to law school for the skills; you're going because you are using law school as a means to achieve a desired legal position (or type of legal position) and you choose your school accordingly. For example YLS--from what my friend there tells me--is poor in terms of teaching it's student's legal skills. I go to another preftigious law school and it's definitely been very mediocre in terms of legal skills I've learned as well as knowledge of the law I've attained (and the crazy part is I'm not doing poorly in school).


I'm not sure how someone halfway through their 1L year can assess whether they have learned useful legal skills. The fact is that top school educate their students in a way that prepares them for biglaw - a legal system that's geared to training its own recruits. Lower ranked schools spend more time on core subjects trying to maximize their bar passage rate.


I’ll defer to your knowledge on this, but I’ve personally never heard that attending a T13 actually prepares one better for biglaw than most schools (save for the ones that teach the bar)

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby QContinuum » Wed May 22, 2019 11:35 pm

nixy wrote:Second, my understanding is that people taking this route have a terrible time passing the bar (California is one of the toughest bars to pass).

OP will also need to take the FYLSE (the "Baby Bar"), which also has a high failure rate and which is not required of students attending an ABA law school.

Further, OP will be pretty much restricted to practicing in California. What if OP decides they'd prefer to work in New York or Boston or Chicago instead? Then their years of reading the law will be down the drain. Almost all of the other states require a J.D. to be eligible for bar admission.

OP claims to have gotten into "several" T13 schools. If so, OP should be able to attend a T13 or T20, or a T1, at a very reasonable price point. Which school would make the most sense to attend would depend on OP's goals and the details of their actual and predicted (based on their GPA/LSAT) offers.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu May 23, 2019 10:11 am

QContinuum wrote:
nixy wrote:Second, my understanding is that people taking this route have a terrible time passing the bar (California is one of the toughest bars to pass).

OP will also need to take the FYLSE (the "Baby Bar"), which also has a high failure rate and which is not required of students attending an ABA law school.

Further, OP will be pretty much restricted to practicing in California. What if OP decides they'd prefer to work in New York or Boston or Chicago instead? Then their years of reading the law will be down the drain. Almost all of the other states require a J.D. to be eligible for bar admission.

OP claims to have gotten into "several" T13 schools. If so, OP should be able to attend a T13 or T20, or a T1, at a very reasonable price point. Which school would make the most sense to attend would depend on OP's goals and the details of their actual and predicted (based on their GPA/LSAT) offers.

I would add that if OP can attend a T13, they can attend a lesser ranked law school on a large, if not full scholarship. Although the ABA bars law students from working, reasonable minds can differ on whether an unpaid apprenticeship is "work". Regardless, employers will assume OP couldn't hack law school with the exception of the individual they apprentice, which makes it a horrible idea. It is odd that they reference another website in every post, and seems like a desperate marketing attempt as it's not like this site generates enough traffic to make doing so worthwhile.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby QContinuum » Thu May 23, 2019 10:48 am

LSATWiz.com wrote:Although the ABA bars law students from working, reasonable minds can differ on whether an unpaid apprenticeship is "work".

The ABA actually does not bar law students from working.
ABA wrote:Standard 304(f), which restricted student employment to 20 hours per week, was eliminated in 2014

See https://www.americanbar.org/groups/lega ... questions/

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu May 23, 2019 2:43 pm

QContinuum wrote:
LSATWiz.com wrote:Although the ABA bars law students from working, reasonable minds can differ on whether an unpaid apprenticeship is "work".

The ABA actually does not bar law students from working.
ABA wrote:Standard 304(f), which restricted student employment to 20 hours per week, was eliminated in 2014

See https://www.americanbar.org/groups/lega ... questions/

Got it. I was unaware of the change, but am glad to see it. The rule was dumb to begin with as it's not the ABA's business to decide what law students can and can't handle. You can argue that taking care of children is a f/t job, and yet the ABA never banned parents from attending law school.

Regardless, this substantiates that there's no reason attending school on a full scholarship and doing an apprenticeship need to be mutually exclusive.

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Re: Legal Apprenticeship (No Law School) vs T14?

Postby QContinuum » Fri May 24, 2019 9:44 am

LSATWiz.com wrote:
QContinuum wrote:
LSATWiz.com wrote:Although the ABA bars law students from working, reasonable minds can differ on whether an unpaid apprenticeship is "work".

The ABA actually does not bar law students from working.
ABA wrote:Standard 304(f), which restricted student employment to 20 hours per week, was eliminated in 2014

See https://www.americanbar.org/groups/lega ... questions/

Got it. I was unaware of the change, but am glad to see it. The rule was dumb to begin with as it's not the ABA's business to decide what law students can and can't handle. You can argue that taking care of children is a f/t job, and yet the ABA never banned parents from attending law school.

Regardless, this substantiates that there's no reason attending school on a full scholarship and doing an apprenticeship need to be mutually exclusive.

Agreed. And of course, there's also the possibility of doing law school through a 4-year part-time program (which ABA Standard 304(f) never applied to). That would leave even more time for working/apprenticing during law school and might even permit OP to make enough during law school to cover their COL.

In any case, even if OP was solely interested in hanging their own shingle, reading the law would still not be advisable because at least with a J.D. there's the possibility of practicing in other states. I for one would rather not spend 3-4 years busting my rear end only to be limited to practicing law in a single state for the rest of my life.



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