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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.