How to Become a Lawyer With No Law Degree

Attorney and President Abraham Lincoln

Read below to see how you can become a lawyer with no law school. No you don’t need law school or a college degree to become a lawyer. I have first hand knowledge of this fact. As one of approximately 64 attorneys in the State of California who has passed both the Baby Bar Exam and General Bar Exam prior to obtaining any degree, I now have a successful law firm, and am an expert on the subject of how to become a lawyer with no college or law school in California.

In fact, I took and passed the California State Bar General Bar Exam with no law degree. The only formal education I had before I began the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, was some foreign language classes, a stint in the United States Marines, and some useless typing lessons. You don’t need to waste money on a law school bible, or law schools themselves. This is how I became an attorney.

No Need to Work for a Law Firm “Mill”, After Graduating, Because You will Already Know Everything the Practicing Lawyers Know

I became an experienced civil litigator by reading the law on an obscure program called the California State Bar Law Office Study Program. Below, I will explain the basics of how become an attorney on the California State Bar Law Office Study Program . The first step is to take the CLEP, or College Level Equivalency Program test. The second step in your journey is to pass the California First Year Law Student’s Examination, known as the Baby Bar “FYSLX. ” Once I passed the Baby Bar, I sat for the California Bar Examination 36 months later.

How to Become a Lawyer With No Law School?

You can also can become an attorney with no college and without setting a single foot in any expensive and boring law school in California, and a few other enlightened North American states. Many law school grads claim you simply must attend law school and college to be a successful California, or other state attorney. California disagrees. One factor to remember is that the ABA, at the time of this writing, discouraged students and bar candidates from becoming a lawyers without law school, such as reading the law in a law office.

This is true, even though this was the only way to actually become an attorney until the creation of expensive law schools later on in U.S. history. You can take and pass the California State Bar Exam with no law school degree or college in a few other states as well.

The States that Still Let You Be An Attorney By Reading for the Law:

As far as I know, 7 U.S. states will still let you read the law in a law office with no law school degree: (Source):

  • Virginia;
  • Washington;
  • Wyoming;
  • California;
  • Maine;
  • New York;

Although I am a California lawyer, I am including this info to help those in other state besides California as well. California’s Law Office Study Program is known as the California State Bar Law Office Study Program.

“Applicants who obtain legal education by . . . law office study must have four years of law study and take an examination after their first year. Applicants who pass the examination within three consecutive administrations of first becoming eligible to take it will receive credit for all law study completed to the date of the examination passed.”

“Applicants may have completed 2/3 of graduation requirements from an ABA-accredited law school and within 12 months after successful completion pursued the study of law in the law office of an attorney in active practice of law in Maine on a full-time basis for at least one year . . .

New York: “Law office study permitted after successful completion of one year at an ABA-approved law school.” (See also)

Vermont: “Four-year law office study program; must have completed three-fourths of work accepted for a bachelor’s degree in a college approved by the Court before commencing the study of law”

Wyoming: “Law office study permitted as a structured course comparable to 2 years at an ABA-approved law school Prior approval of independent study required.” No special requirements are needed to become an attorney without law school inVirginia or Washington as far as I could determine. All of the above information came from the “Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements 2004,” published by the National Conference of Bar Examiners and American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. Famous American Lawyers, presidents and Supreme Court justices who became attorneys without school.

Law Office Study is the way president Abraham Lincoln and other Supreme Court justices were able to become lawyers in the past, as well as myself. Those high powered men learned by doing it in a law office as law clerks and apprentices. In fact is, historically, attorneys lawyers read from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England to learn the law and by clerking. After that, the lawyer candidate was orally examined by state supreme court judges. (Source.) The Bar Exam came along hundreds of years later. In fact, here is a list of famous men who did it the old way.

  1. Patrick Henry (1736-1799), member of the Continental Congress, governor of Virginia;
  2. John Jay (1745-1829), first chief justice of the Supreme Court;
  3. John Marshall (1755-1835), chief justice of the Supreme Court;
  4. William Wirt (1772-1834), attorney general;
  5. Roger B. Taney (1777-1864), secretary of the treasury, chief justice of the Supreme Court;
  6. Daniel Webster (1782-1852), secretary of state;
  7. Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873), senator, chief justice of the Supreme Court;
  8. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), president;
  9. Stephen Douglas (1813-1861), representative, senator from Illinois;
  10. Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), defense attorney in Scopes trial of 1925. [Clarence Darrow went to law school for one year, and preferred to study law on his own. He received most of his legal education in a law office in Youngstown, Ohio;
  11. Robert Storey (b. 1893), president of the American Bar Association (1952-1953);
  12. J. Strom Thurmond (b. 1902), senator, governor of South Carolina;
  13. James O. Eastland (b. 1904), senator from Mississippi Wallechinsky, David, "The Book of Lists," 1977 (Web Source)

Importance of the Bar Exam Itself - ABA Resistance to Law Office Study

I personally feel that the Bar Exam is a helpful way to measure acceptability to the Courts via the California State Bar. I disagree with the ABA that people should not be allowed to take the Bar without law school. I equally disagree that people shouldn't be allowed to pass the Bar Exam without college or law school, who are otherwise qualified. I created this page how to become a lawyer on the Law Office Study Program in other states, as well as California, and to help motivate people less fortunate who would otherwise be excellent attorneys.

I also created this page because I am fearful the California State Bar, and other out of State Bars will eliminate this valuable program of study in a law office. This is due in large part by pressure from the to standardize the study of law in their bureaucratic image. There is another path to success other than law school. Consumer and citizen awareness about the California State Bar Law Office Study Program is very important. We need to keep the Law Office Study Programs alive and we should also expand upon them in other states.

Law Office Study in California. A Brief Overview: The Bar Candidate must first have the equivalent of an AA degree. The Bar Candidate will need to score high on the CLEP if he does not have college. (College Level Equivalency Program). [This is what I did] The Bar Candidate must take and pass the California State Bar First Year Law Students Exam (FYLSX) (aka “Baby Bar Exam”) within the first three (3) attempts, or he or she will only receive credit for law office study for the first year and not for the study when retaking the Baby Bar the previous three (3) attempts. The Bar Candidate must study under a judge or lawyer for four (4) years, being tested once per month by a supervising judge or attorney.

The Bar Candidate must take and pass the California State Bar General Bar Exam and pass it. The Bar Candidate should know enough practice and procedure to immediately go into practice without having to work in a sweat shop defense firm or something like it, because he or she will already know as much about the area of practice he or she studied under as a seasoned four (4) year attorney.


Study law under a lawyer who practices in the field of law that you want to practice in once you pass the Bar Exam. You will always have work when you finally pass the Bar Exam. This equals freedom! Cal Bar Tutorial Review – Paul Pfau the Legal Guru Tutor (CBTR): Contact Paul Pfau at Cal Bar Tutorial Review and learn how to write for the Bar Exam. Paul Pfau is the law guru who taught me how to pass the Baby Bar with no college and to pass the California State Bar Exam with no J.D. If I could become a California lawyer – the hardest bar exam in the nation, bar none – with no law school degree with Paul Pfau’s help, so can you.