Vermont Has it All!
There are a lot of reasons why Vermont is a wonderful place to live. Here’s another one to put on the list: Vermont is one of the few states where you can be admitted to the bar without going to law school. While becoming a lawyer historically required an extensive apprenticeship, now all but four states require applicants to the bar to have gone to a traditional law school. The four states that lack this requirement are: California, Virginia, Washington and yes, the Green Mountain State of Vermont.
Back when the cost of a law degree was manageable for most students, this well-kept secret didn’t pack the punch it does these days when the average cost of a law degree can exceed $100,000 and most law school graduates don’t find the degree worth the cost. That’s not so if you can participate in Vermont’s law office study program and obtain the equivalent of a degree while apprenticing with a supervising lawyer in Vermont for no less than three years.
I am proud to say that while a partner at Clark, Werner & Flynn, I successfully supervised the work of a committed paralegal who is now practicing as a lawyer here in Vermont. That said, I cannot take too much credit; it was a privilege to supervise the work of someone who was bright, hard- working, well organized, and determined to become a lawyer. Reading for the law, as it is often called here in Vermont, is not for the faint of heart. But for the right person—talented, hardworking, and committed—it can provide a path to becoming a lawyer without the often prohibitively expensive price tag. It’s a path that was taken by many accomplished lawyers in Vermont, including at least one of our Supreme Court justices, and it was the path taken by many highly regarded lawyers throughout history, including Abraham Lincoln, John Marshall and Clarence Darrow.