Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

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learner100
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Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by learner100 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm

I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.

FOLLOW UP:
I am looking into the 'law school full ride for high LSAT scores' idea mentioned below. What is the incentive of the law school to do this? I am not a protected class and so I would not be adding to their diversity pool.
Last edited by learner100 on Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ivk5
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by ivk5 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:50 pm

Can you be a bit more specific about goal/motivation?

Most practicing lawyers will probably tell you they are far from having "comprehensively" learned the law, unless you mean a specific area of expertise/focus...

bgf
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by bgf » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:54 pm

yea, why? do you want to practice some day? if so, i would recommend you take a bazillion practice LSATs and get to where you can score in the 170s half asleep. you should be able to go for free at that point.
“TE OCCIDERE POSSUNT SED TE EDERE NON POSSUNT NEFAS EST"

huntertheory
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by huntertheory » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:03 pm

Having a "comprehensive understanding of the law" would require, first, a comprehensive understanding of the vastness of human experience -- from admiralty to maritime to criminal law to constitutional theories to financial and banking regulation to securities and corporate governance t international obligations (binding and non-binding) to laws of contracts to private torts. It is, I think, not quite possible? (Also, if you're not going to practice law, unclear what the benefit would be?) To use just one example, the federal tax code runs about 3,000 pages -- and that of course does not account for the court decisions and realities of legal practice than inform how many of those provision are interpreted and applied, and it says nothing about the fact that you could learn it only for Congress to rewrite large portions of the tax code... as it just did in December.

If you want a "comprehensive" view that you are reading more for pleasure than purpose, you could start with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr's "The Common Law," though I'll warn you that there have been a few intervening developments in the last 120 or so years.
Last edited by huntertheory on Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Heisenburg
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Heisenburg » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:05 pm

I third the sentiment of "why"? That said, the most cost-effective way to "comprehensively" learn the law is probably to study for the bar exam. Barbri will set you back about $3500-5000. It will hit all the subjects that you would expect to see on a bar exam and is probably the one and only time most lawyers will ever think about 90% of the topics covered. Nobody ever learns all of the law. Once a person passes the bar, they usually end up concentrating on a few discrete areas (estate planning, tax, litigation, admin law, criminal law, zoning, etc.).

Spyder59
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Spyder59 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:05 pm

Many states permit aspiring lawyer to “clerk” under a qualified attorney in order to become eligible to sit for the bar examination. Often a four to six year endeavor, during which time you are paid for your time. The supervising attorney and you are responsible for establishing a curriculum of study. Or, you can enroll in a paralegal program, varying lengths and quality.


If you want a quick overview, get a textbook or “nutshell” study guide contracts, civil procedure, con law, evidence, torts, crime law, real estate, and a copy of Blacks Law Dictionary.

Good luck

Atgard
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Atgard » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:06 pm

There is no such thing as "comprehensively" learning law. There are so many specialties & sub-specialties & jurisdictions... you could bring an issue to a top-tier expert litigator at a big firm with 30+ years experience... and the first thing in almost every case is to get an associate to research the issues. (Even if you know a bunch of stuff, case law is always changing.) And if you ask that lawyer about tax law, or laws in another state, or patents, etc., he'd draw a blank.

In law school, you learn some basics (mostly inapplicable stuff like British common law), but you mainly learn how to research, think critically, spot issues, argue, etc.

The good news is you can find statues for free online. You may need to find a law library or Westlaw/Nexis account for more specific case research. There are practice guides out there. Seminars and CLE courses. Do you have a friend or mentor with experience in the field you're interested in? Etc. So it can be done without law school (actually, there are WAY better ways to learn about specific areas of law), but it depends exactly on what you're trying to learn, and for what purpose.

Random Poster
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Random Poster » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:14 pm

Pick up the "In a Nutshell" books on the standard 1-L classes: Contacts, Torts, Civil Procedure, Criminal, Criminal Procedure, and Constitutional. Maybe throw in an Evidence book too. You can probably find free pdf versions on the internet.

Those will give you a very basic understanding of the law---you might be able to converse somewhat knowledgeably about the generalities of the law, but that's probably about it.

If you really want to become fluent in a legal subject (say, oil and gas law), pick up a casebook on the subject (say, Oil and Gas by Kuntz, Lowe, Anderson, Smith, and Pierce; or Oil and Gas by Hemingway), read through it, and then read all of the cases cited in the casebook. And then join a State Bar's section on the subject (say, the State Bar of Texas Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Section), and read their quarterly section reports. And then buy a treatise on the subject (say, Williams & Meyers Oil and Gas Law; or Kuntz's Law of Oil and Gas) and read through it. And even then, you still might not know everything about the subject.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:24 pm

If I had the time, I'd go to a State University law school in my state. Being over 60, it's free for me. I passed the LSAT years ago and was accepted to law school but decided to go a different direction. I plan to do something like taking the courses needed for a CFA just for fun once I retire.
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GmanJeff
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by GmanJeff » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:41 pm

Spyder59 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:05 pm
Many states permit aspiring lawyer to “clerk” under a qualified attorney in order to become eligible to sit for the bar examination. Often a four to six year endeavor, during which time you are paid for your time. The supervising attorney and you are responsible for establishing a curriculum of study.
In Virginia, this is called "reading the law", but I doubt any practicing attorney would mentor you if your objective is not ultimately to take the bar exam and practice law, since it might be difficult for the mentor to identify a reasonable return on investment for the effort expended in providing the mentoring and education.

There may be some on-line law degree programs within your budget, although you'd have to decide for yourself if you get value for money with such an approach. While such programs would not likely qualify you to take a bar exam anywhere, since I suspect (but admittedly do not know) that they do not have the prerequisite accreditation by the American Bar Association, that aspect is of no consequence if you do not plan to practice.

JoeRetire
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by JoeRetire » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:53 pm

learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?
Better? What does "better" mean in this context?

It would be better to continue reading and work with a legal mentor for the next 20 years or so. But that's probably not what you mean.

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Pajamas
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Pajamas » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:03 pm

If I were going to "learn law" I would be looking for the best method that I could afford, or maybe the most efficient method, but not simply the least expensive method. The time involved is great regardless of your motivation or planned use of the knowledge.

You basically have to teach yourself everything, anyway, even the best teachers, books, courses, etc. merely facilitate that.

If you are just randomly reading textbooks, at least put together a plan of study to help you meet your overall goals.

alfaspider
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by alfaspider » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:32 pm

learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.
You can easily find a law school to give you a full ride with a high enough LSAT score. But echoing other posters, I don't see the point of this endeavor if you don't intend to practice law.

The "reading the law" method of bar admission is quite rare these days (it used to be common 100+ years ago). To the extent people still do it, it's almost exclusively people who have family business law firms with an established local client base. It would be exceedingly difficult to find a practicing attorney willing to fulfill the requirements for a stranger when there are hordes of unemployed law school graduates they could simply hire for cheap.

DC3509
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by DC3509 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:03 pm

GmanJeff wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:41 pm
Spyder59 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:05 pm
Many states permit aspiring lawyer to “clerk” under a qualified attorney in order to become eligible to sit for the bar examination. Often a four to six year endeavor, during which time you are paid for your time. The supervising attorney and you are responsible for establishing a curriculum of study.
In Virginia, this is called "reading the law", but I doubt any practicing attorney would mentor you if your objective is not ultimately to take the bar exam and practice law, since it might be difficult for the mentor to identify a reasonable return on investment for the effort expended in providing the mentoring and education.

There may be some on-line law degree programs within your budget, although you'd have to decide for yourself if you get value for money with such an approach. While such programs would not likely qualify you to take a bar exam anywhere, since I suspect (but admittedly do not know) that they do not have the prerequisite accreditation by the American Bar Association, that aspect is of no consequence if you do not plan to practice.

These sorts of "experience" programs are very rare. In order to sit for the bar in most states, you have to earn a degree from an accredited law school. California is one major exception -- you can take the bar exam having graduated from an unaccredited law school. But the California bar is VERY difficult and the majority of people fail it.

I agree with what everyone else has said -- you can't learn the law this way. It would be akin to learning medicine through reading medical books. It is simply not possible.

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Meaty
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by Meaty » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:10 pm

learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.
Check out northwestern California. They have a 100% online law degree for around $10k total. It’s not ABA accredited but you don’t plan to practice anyway
"Discipline equals Freedom" - Jocko Willink

SouthernCPA
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by SouthernCPA » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:38 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:24 pm
I plan to do something like taking the courses needed for a CFA just for fun once I retire.
You and I have very different definitions of "fun."

BloogleBird
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by BloogleBird » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:57 pm

Several states allow for law apprenticeship programs:

http://www.lawschoolbible.com/chapter-7 ... p-programs

You may even be able to take the bar exam and become a legally practicing attorney if you pass.

learner100
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by learner100 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:12 pm

alfaspider wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:32 pm
learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.
You can easily find a law school to give you a full ride with a high enough LSAT score. But echoing other posters, I don't see the point of this endeavor if you don't intend to practice law.

The "reading the law" method of bar admission is quite rare these days (it used to be common 100+ years ago). To the extent people still do it, it's almost exclusively people who have family business law firms with an established local client base. It would be exceedingly difficult to find a practicing attorney willing to fulfill the requirements for a stranger when there are hordes of unemployed law school graduates they could simply hire for cheap.
I am looking into the 'law school full ride' idea mentioned above. What is the incentive of the law school to do this? I am not a protected class and so I would not be adding to their diversity pool.

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bottlecap
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by bottlecap » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:35 pm

Take a Barbri course. It is probably about $2000, but it will give you the knowledge you seek.

It's basically law school in a can.

JT

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by oldcomputerguy » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:43 pm

learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.
If you're looking for a decent introduction to law, I'd suggest Jay Feinman's "Law 101", available in multiple formats at Amazon. It's up to the Fourth Edition now, with a Fifth Edition scheduled to be published this July.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

alfaspider
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by alfaspider » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:26 am

learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:12 pm
alfaspider wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:32 pm
learner100 wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:47 pm
I want to get a comprehensive legal education. For the last 2 years I have been reading textbooks on law. I don't plan on practicing law.

Is there a better way to comprehensively learn law than by self-teaching as I am doing now?

If the entire cost of law school was under $10K, I would consider it, but that's not reality.
You can easily find a law school to give you a full ride with a high enough LSAT score. But echoing other posters, I don't see the point of this endeavor if you don't intend to practice law.

The "reading the law" method of bar admission is quite rare these days (it used to be common 100+ years ago). To the extent people still do it, it's almost exclusively people who have family business law firms with an established local client base. It would be exceedingly difficult to find a practicing attorney willing to fulfill the requirements for a stranger when there are hordes of unemployed law school graduates they could simply hire for cheap.
I am looking into the 'law school full ride' idea mentioned above. What is the incentive of the law school to do this? I am not a protected class and so I would not be adding to their diversity pool.
Higher median LSAT and GPA = school gets ranked higher in various publications. For lower tier schools, stronger students help increase bar passage rates.

alfaspider
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by alfaspider » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:30 am

bottlecap wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:35 pm
Take a Barbri course. It is probably about $2000, but it will give you the knowledge you seek.

It's basically law school in a can.

JT
Eh, I thought Barbri was quite different from law school. Barbri is just giving you rules to memorize and reguritate- you don't get any of the background or training to derive the rules you get in law school, nor do you learn proper legal writing or research. I thought the bar exam was more of a hazing ritual than a legitimate academic exercise.

FedGuy
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Re: Least Expensive Way to Comprehensively Learn Law

Post by FedGuy » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:18 pm

alfaspider wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:30 am
Eh, I thought Barbri was quite different from law school. Barbri is just giving you rules to memorize and reguritate- you don't get any of the background or training to derive the rules you get in law school, nor do you learn proper legal writing or research. I thought the bar exam was more of a hazing ritual than a legitimate academic exercise.
Agreed. Again, it's hard to say without really understanding the OP's motivation, but BarBri will help you memorize a bunch of rules (which, if you're like 99% of people taking the bar exam, you'll forget days after the exam) but won't help much with giving you a high-level understanding in how to "think like a lawyer."

Some law schools offer one year programs--I think they're generally referred to as "Masters of Studies in Law" or "MSL" degrees--that are designed not to train lawyers, but to provide an overview of the law, typically by approximating the first year JD curriculum, to non-lawyers. I've known of journalists who pursue the MSL degree, for example, to assist them in reporting on legal or regulatory issues. Maybe something like that might be of interest to the OP? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_of_Studies_in_Law

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