Reading law is a pathway to becoming a lawyer by self-study under the supervision of a practicing or retired judge or attorney. During the 1800s, before law schools, it was the only way of studying to be a lawyer; many famous lawyers such as Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry, John Jay, and John Marshall read law.
As a result of the liberal American Bar Association's lobbying, most states have eliminated this pathway in favor of graduation from an ABA approved law school. However, seven states, (California, New York, Wyoming, Virginia, Washington, Maine, and Vermont), still allow people to qualify to be lawyers by reading the law.
California Law Office Study Program
In the California Law Office Study Program, applicants read law under the supervision of a judge or attorney for four years. Applicants generally have a college degree; however, this can be waved in favor of credit from CLEP exams. Applicants must be tested at the end of the first year.