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How to Become a Lawyer Without the LSAT (spoiler alert: don’t do it)

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When people first look at the LSAT, they often feel great terror, as if they’re looking into the face of some rabid platypus that is going to rip your nuts off with his crazy freak bill. Most people attack the platypus head on with the baseball bat of LSAT study. If you strike the creature long enough, in a methodical, patient, focused, and driven manner, he’ll eventually expire, opening the doors to law school success. Hurrah! But for some, his beady eyes and foaming bill are just too terrifying, and while protectively clutching their crotch run to the seemingly comforting, yet soul-breaking arms of business school (which in the world of my schizophrenic metaphors would be a cuddly panda made of money who eats your heart out of your chest with a grapefruit spoon).

So is that your only option if you give up on the LSAT? Are the halls of the law permanently closed to you? Well, technically no. But sort of, yes.

In California and a handful of other states, you can actually take the bar without going to law school, which makes you a total baller. You can even do it without a college degree, which truly makes you a Thug for Life. Although it might not make you an employable one. This is pure speculation, but I don’t know if the big-name firms are lining up to hire the home-schooled weirdos. You remember those kids? The ones who smelled funny and whose parents didn’t let them own a TV? You don’t want to be one of them. And don’t wet your pants just yet, because it’s not easy by any means. You have to do a long apprenticeship under a lawyer or judge, and you still have to take the bar, in addition to having to first take the “baby bar” (which sadly does not involve infants getting drunk, as the name would imply). There are probably about 17 people out there for whom the law-school-free lawyering route might be a good idea. For the rest of you, soldier on.

How about law school itself, you ask? Is it off the table without the LSAT? Well, that sort of depends on how you define law school. If you’re all hoity toity and real fancy-like and want to go to a top 200 school, then yeah, for the most part you’re pretty much going to need the LSAT. There are a handful of non-accredited schools that will be glad to take your money, such as the Massachusetts School of Law. And you can succeed at these schools. Non-accredited law schools will quickly point to all their successful graduates who have gone on to be politicians, judges, successful attorneys, and all around swell people, but the deck is sort of (read: overwhelmingly) stacked against you. It’s actually more of a Svengali deck.

Somewhat surprising is that there are actually a few ABA-accredited schools that will consider you without an LSAT score, but it’s no walk in the park. Michigan and Georgetown, for example (both of which are truly fantastic schools) will consider you, but you have to be a current student at that school, and a pretty stellar one at that (you need a 3.8 minimum GPA even to be in the running). So this doesn’t apply to a whole lot of people. But even if you could go to Michigan or Georgetown LSAT-free because of your 4.0 and Fulbright and personal statement about your parents who died in a refugee camp, if you studied for the LSAT and did well on that too, you’d have a whole hell of a lot more options, and might even be able to go to Michigan or Georgetown for free.

So at the end of the day there really isn’t any way to get out of the LSAT. At least not any way that’s a good idea for the vast, vast majority of the pre-law population. So study a lot and take the damn test. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work and, well, to be honest, it kind of sucks, but it’s a whole lot better

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