Like Lincoln - Becoming a Lawyer without Going to Law School

Like Lincoln is a collection of blog posts (2013-2018) about the experiences of four legal apprentices and three mentors as they completed the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California. We created this blog because we believed there is a shortage of information about the apprenticeship route to practicing law. That’s why we documented our experiences and shared all the information, ideas, tips, and resources that we found useful to assist interested apprentices and supervising attorneys throughout their process.

And please join the Apprenticing to Become a Lawyer Facebook Group to connect with others and discuss the growing legal apprenticeship movement!

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What is legal apprenticeship? Vermont, California, Virginia, and Washington all allow people to become lawyers by “reading the law,” meaning they study and apprentice in the office of a lawyer or judge, in lieu of going to law school.

In California, for example, a person can become a lawyer by working and studying in the office of a lawyer or judge for 18 hours per week for four years. The supervising attorney must provide five hours of direct supervision per week, and must administer exams to the apprentice to test his or her learning. New York, Wyoming, and Maine all allow people to become lawyers through a combination of law school and apprenticeship.

Meet the Apprentices and Mentors

Christina Oatfield, Former Law Apprentice at Cutting Edge Counsel
Christina Oatfield formerly worked at the Sustainable Economies Law Center as the Policy Director and at Cutting Edge Counsel as a legal apprentice. At the law center, she advocated for laws that enable more sustainable, local and resilient economies. She managed the successful grassroots campaign to enact the California Homemade Food Act (AB 1616), a cottage food law for California. Her policy work focused on small food enterprises and cooperatives of many kinds. She serves on the Steering Committees of both the California Food Policy Council and Slow Money Northern California. As part of the Law Office Study Program of the State Bar of California, she studied corporate and securities law, among other legal topics, with support from attorneys Kim Arnone and Jenny Kassan at Cutting Edge Counsel in Oakland. Christina earned her B.S. in Environmental Sciences at UC Berkeley where she wrote a thesis about student-run food cooperatives and co-founded the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Prior to working for the law center, Christina identified and counted insects in an agroecology lab, worked for a tech start-up, managed a green retail store, ran an underground restaurant, planned events and was an assistant at another nonprofit organization.

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