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'Desperate for lawyers,' Maine considers alternative path to law license

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Maine lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow aspiring lawyers to skip law school if they study under a supervising attorney for two years.

The bill requires at least 18 hours each week of study in the supervising attorney’s office, report Reuters and the Lewiston Sun Journal.

If the bill passes, Maine would join four other states that allow would-be lawyers to take the bar exam after studying law through an apprenticeship.

The four states are California, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Maine already allows people to take the bar exam if they complete two-thirds of requirements for law school graduation and then pursue law studies for a year in the office of an attorney.

One of the sponsors of the bill is Maine State Rep. David Boyer, a Republican. He told Reuters and the Lewiston Sun Journal that he hopes that the bill will address a lawyer shortage in the state that is leading to a backlog of criminal cases.

“We are so desperate for lawyers that we need some alternative solutions,” Boyer told Reuters.

Maine isn’t the only state considering changes, according to Reuters. A North Dakota bill encourages the judiciary to consider other paths to a law license. And Oregon is considering alternatives that would allow some law grads to skip the bar exam.

Wisconsin already allows students who graduate from law schools in the state to become licensed without a bar exam.

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