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Legal Assistant Passes CA Bar Exam Without Going to Law School

Big high five to former legal assistant Jennifer O’Brien who passed the California bar exam last year, without ever attending law school.

Heck, I know plenty of people who took the notoriously difficult California bar exam multiple times and failed even after graduating from law school.

California is one of a few states that offers an alternate apprentice-type route to becoming a licensed attorney. Willits News reported that O’Brien embarked on a long course of self-study:

First, she said, she had to register with the state bar of California as a student and was then required to send in legal essays and other assignments every six months. “These are on all the same subjects you’d go through in law school,” she said. “My house is layered in law books.”

After the first year, the legal apprentices have to take what’s called the “baby bar,” and they must pass that to be allowed to continue their studies. It takes a total of four years of monitored legal studies before students can take the real bar exam.

O’Brien intends to practice law with her current employer, attorney Christopher J. Neary. She was previously his legal assistant for 15 years.

I suspect more than a few Practical Paralegalism readers are thinking they have enough on-the-job legal training to pass the bar in their states, too – without ever setting foot on a law school campus.

Source:  Willits News

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Lynne J. DeVenny, N.C. State Bar Certified Paralegal

Owner & Virtual Paralegal, DeVenny Paralegal Services

Email: lynne.devenny[at]

Telephone: 336-582-0003

Inquiries are welcome, with free quotes available.

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Lynne DeVenny is a North Carolina State Bar Certified Paralegal with over 27 years of experience working on complex litigation cases, including medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and Social Security disability.

Disclosure: I am not a lawyer and cannot provide legal representation or legal advice.

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