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Want to Become a Lawyer? Washington State Offers 2 Alternatives

Want to practice law before you pass the bar exam? Here's how to do it in Washington state.

News about Kim Kardashian prepping to take the California Bar Exam to become a lawyer lit up the news and social media outlets. Considering Kardashian hasn’t even eared a Bachelor’s degree, how could she become a practicing attorney so quickly?

Guess what? In California and in our very own Washington state, there are alternates. One involves no law school at all while the second alternative allows you to work as a practicing attorney before you pass the bar exam.

The traditional route to becoming a practicing attorney involves obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, going to law school for several years and eventually taking the bar exam in the state in which you want to practice. Two alternatives to the traditional route to become a practicing lawyer exist in Washington state.

Law Clerk Program

According to the Washington Supreme Courts Admission and Practice Rules, you can participate in the Law Clerk Program to become a lawyer. This is an alternative to attending a traditional 3-year law school. Unlike California, though, you do need a Bachelor’s degree to participate. You must also be employed full time by a lawyer or judge practicing in Washington state. The lawyer or judge for whom you work must have a minimum of 10 years experience and active service in law.

In this program, the attorney or judge acts as your tutor. Once you’ve been approved to participate in The Law Clerk Program, you attend a four-year program that combines work and study to give you an education and practical experience. Once you complete the program, you become eligible to take the Washington State Bar Exam.   Click here to read the rules and regulations about the Law Clerk Program.

Practice While You Attend Law School

If you’re in law school and anxious to immerse yourself in the day-to-day routine of practicing law, the Washington Supreme Court APR 9 Licensed Legal Interns program might be the ticket.

This program gives students a limited license to practice law under the supervision of a lawyer with at least three years of active experience. Requirements include being enrolled in and having completed 2/3 of a 3-year program with an accredited law school.

This program is also helpful for graduates of a law school – you can apply after law school graduation for up to 9 months after finishing school. If you’re accepted, you’ll be granted a legal intern license that allows limited practice in Washington state before you take the bar exam. Click here for more information.