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MICHAEL EHLINE joined the U.S. Marine Cops out of high school and has no college degree. After his military service, he started a construction business and ran a health club until he heard of the Law Office Study Program. Today, he has a personal injury practice specializing in cruise ship catastrophes and road vehicle mishaps.
“I began faxing, emailing, cold-calling attorneys to ask for sponsorship in exchange for work,” he recalls. He ended up studying with four sponsors in four years, each specializing in a different practice area: personal injury, criminal defense, litigation, and criminal prosecution. Ehline thinks these lawyers agreed to mentor him because they saw his tenacity and fed off his energy. “They’re all my dearest friends today, part of my extended family.”
But the going was rough; Ehline had a family to support in his last two years of LOSP. “Money was tight,” he recalls. “I was working at Home Depot for ten bucks an hour, on night shifts at times, living like a pauper for a while.” He took jobs as a law clerk and paralegal as well. He also began attending night classes at the University of West Los Angels Law School because he wanted “the law school experience after passing the baby bar.” He passed both the baby bar and the regular bar after two attempts, getting his law license in 2005 while still in his third year at UWLA.
“How cool was that?” Ehline says proudly. “I was the big man on campus, getting a law degree while already practicing as a lawyer.” He thinks he immediately got a lot of business after passing the bar because people respected his achievement. He advises taking tutorials in preparing for bar exams – he swears by Paul Pfau review courses – and capitalizing on knowledge acquired by working as a clerk or paralegal.
California’s Law Office Study Program (LOSP) is grounded in State Bar rule 4.29 (www.rules.calbar.ca.gov). The requirements are uncomplicated, and the State Bar admissions office mainly serves as a registrar. The bar doesn’t supervise apprentices – that’s the task of their sponsors, who must be either a judge or an attorney and must have at least five years of good standing with the bar. The State Bar doesn’t even evaluate the curriculum that the sponsor and the student design. Sponsors may not claim MCLE credit for their mentoring. Here are the basics:
LOSP students must find a sponsor, pay a $40 fee and submit a Notice of intent to Study Law in a Law Office or Judge’s Chamber to the bar’s Office of Admissions.
Simply working for the sponsor won’t do. Law readers must actually follow a self-designed study course under the sponsor’s supervision for at least 18 hours a week, for four years over 48 consecutive weeks a year.
The sponsor must give a written examination once a month and submit a semiannual report to the bar, along with a $30 fee, and the questions and answers of the monthly test.
After the first year participants must pass the “baby bar,” or the California First Year Law Students’ Examination, give in June and October. Those who pass it within three attempts get credit for all study up to that point. If it takes more tries, they earn credit for only one year of study.
Students must pass the Multistate Professsional Responsibility Exam. It’s give three times a year and can be taken any time after the first year of study.
Four years of law office study qualifies participants to sit for the California Bar Examination, which is given in July and February.
This article is a reprint from the California Lawyer, June 2011 edition. Paul Pfau’s expertise to help people to successfully pass the bar exam includes those who have never gone to law school but qualified to take the exam through the much more rare law office program approach.
Paul Pfau is a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and the owner of Cal Bar Tutorial Review, which has been customizing bar review programs for 33 years. For a free consultation and for more information about Cal Bar Tutorial Review, call (800) 348-2401 or (800) 783-6168. Web site: www.cbtronline.com
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More Success For Ali
Cal Bar is pleased to announce that Ali Hinsche continued her remarkable run of success in having just passed the Florida bar exam.
This was her 4th (count 'em: 1, 2, 3, 4) successful bar - on her 1st attempt-following California, New York and Illinois.
While Ali worked with Cal Bar for each state, she also owes her success to persistence, hard work, and in learning how to adapt and apply the Cal Bar test-taking systems to the requirements of each bar exam.