Kelly Hyman
Attorney Kelly Hyman

Kelly Hyman Talks About How to be a Lawyer Without Going to Law School

Attorney Kelly Hyman is proud of her law school education and her chosen career as a mass torts and class action attorney.

Over the years, Attorney Kelly Hyman has represented hundreds of claimants in many different actions. One of the most common questions Kelly is asked is how to become an attorney. “I always advise the normal route of getting your bachelor’s degree and then applying to law school like I did,” she says. “But there is another way very few people know about.”

Kelly Hyman AttorneyMost people go to one of the 237 law schools in the U.S., Kelly says. It’s a lot of work to get into law school, and then there are years of classes and countless hours of study to graduate. When you’re done, unless you got scholarships, you’re usually left with thousands of dollars in student loans, but you’ve got a great education.

The other way of becoming a lawyer, in fact, doesn’t involve law school at all. This is the same path that a lot of our forefathers took, she says. That’s because law schools weren’t common until around the late nineteenth century. “It’s not very well known,” she adds, “but it’s still an option today in a few states.” It’s called “reading the law.”

Attorney Kelly Hyman explains that reading the law involves working in an internship or apprenticeship under an experienced, licensed attorney in their office.

You’d need to live in one of the few states that still let you do this, she says, which currently are California, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. She adds that New York, Maine, and Wyoming allow it but with some law school added in. Each state has their own rules, Kelly says, but they all involve spending years in a legal office studying law books and getting practical knowledge of the law.

You’re still required to take the bar exam, she says, and all the other requirements still hold. However, each state has their own requirements for the apprenticeship. For example, in Virginia, you cannot be employed by the attorney’s office under which you’re studying, but Washington’s laws require just the opposite.

Even though you can save thousands of dollars that it costs to go to law school, there are definite disadvantages to doing this, Kelly Hyman says. First, reading the law only allows you to take the bar exam – it doesn’t guarantee you’ll pass. In fact, the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners says that only 19% of those reading the law pass the Virginia State Bar, compared to 68% of those graduating from law school. Kelly says many other states and jurisdictions will not recognize a law education that was obtained from reading the law, and many scholars agree the education is not as thorough as going to law school.

Most of the apprenticeships are three years straight, she says. That means no breaks and no summers off. Another disadvantage is that you don’t have the benefit of learning from experienced law professors or other students in a law school. “It’s a pretty isolated way of learning,” she says. You’re limited to the attorney who is working with you, and they still have their clients to tend to, she adds. In addition, you still have to make financial arrangements with the attorney who is sponsoring you. “It’s not for everyone,” Kelly Hyman says, “and I don’t really recommend it, but it’s an option for those who understand and work within the limitations it poses.”

More on Attorney Kelly Hyman

A member of the Florida Bar, Colorado Bar, the Washington D.C. Bar, the New York Bar, as well as the American Association for Justice and the former President of the Federal Bar, Palm Beach Chapter, Kelly Hyman is a Democrat political and legal analyst. Attorney Kelly Hyman has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows. These include Law & Crime, Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, Watters’ World, CourtTV and Fox and Friends First. She has also appeared on the Ethan Bearman show, “Issues and Ideas” with Chris DeBellow, “The Whistleblower” with Mychal Wilson and the “Jiggy Jaguar” radio show. Her book, “Top 10 Reasons to Dump Trump in 2020” was released late last year.

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