Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Taking the bar exam without going to law school ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Taking the bar exam without going to law school
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: shafdog2000-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 20 Mar 2004 09:02 PST
Expires: 19 Apr 2004 10:02 PDT
Question ID: 318636
I want to know if there are any US states or territories that allows
someone to take only the bar exam to become a lawyer in that
jurisdiction without previously graduating from law school.
Subject: Re: Taking the bar exam without going to law school
Answered By: markj-ga on 20 Mar 2004 15:50 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
shafdog2000 --

The following seven states allow admission to the bar to candidates
who meet law office study requirements but have not graduated from a
law school:

New York

Several of those states have special requirements that apply to the
applicants for bar membership that choose law office study as their
primary qualification.  Here is a summary of those special

"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

"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."

"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"

"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 conditions are noted for Virginia and Washington.

All of the above information is 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.

A complete copy of that document in PDF form can be accessed using this link:
National Conference of Bar Examiners

The tables and explanatory notes that specifically speak to your
question are found at pages 10-13 of that document.  They also provide
a breakdown of states that require degrees from ABA-approved law
schools, those that recognize non ABA-approved degrees under various
circumstances, as well as correspondence study and foreign law school

(You will need Adobe Reader to access this PDF document.  If it is not
installed on your computer, it can be conveniently downloaded at no
cost from this linked page:
Adobe Reader: Download  )

Search Strategy:

In my initial Google searches, I found conflicting information -- some
sites indicated that eight states allowed law firm study to qualify as
a bar exam applicant, and some said seven.

For example, this site indicated that there were eight such states:
Community Legal Access BarAlt Proposal

While this site said seven:
Christian Science Monitor: The Self-made Lawyer

The latter information is more recent and from a very reliable source,
but I wanted to confirm the currency of the information from an even
more authoritative source, so I tried various Google searches to
accomplish that.  The one was led me to the 2004 ABA report was the

bar admission requirements "new york"

The previous searches that led to the contradictory information
included, among others:

"bar exam" "without graduating" "law school"

"eight states" "law school" vermont

I am confident that this is the information you are seeking.  If
anything is unclear, please ask for clarification before rating this

shafdog2000-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00

Subject: Re: Taking the bar exam without going to law school
From: hlabadie-ga on 20 Mar 2004 09:50 PST
"Reading the law" is still permitted in some states. One studies under
a lawyer or judge.

For example:

Subject: Re: Taking the bar exam without going to law school
From: markj-ga on 21 Mar 2004 09:16 PST
shafdog --

Thanks much for the rating and the nice tip.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy