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Self study law?
Old 08-02-2010, 03:24 PM   #1
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Self study law?

I would love to go to law school, but can't get anyone to pay for it. I can't afford it myself (well I probably could if part time but its not career related).

Does anyone know of a good self study program? Course outlines? I don't know what else to look for. Online classes? Recorded lectures on youtube?
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:12 PM   #2
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I would love to go to law school, but can't get anyone to pay for it. I can't afford it myself (well I probably could if part time but its not career related).

Does anyone know of a good self study program? Course outlines? I don't know what else to look for. Online classes? Recorded lectures on youtube?

What is your goal here?
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:24 PM   #3
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I would only recommend law school if your goal is to be an attorney and you have some idea what that entails. If you would love to learn more about the law there are better ways to do it which take less time and money. Law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer but does not necessarily teach you current laws. It doesn't even really teach you skills to be a good lawyer, just skills about how to analyze the law.
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Old 08-02-2010, 04:45 PM   #4
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It doesn't even really teach you skills to be a good lawyer, just skills about how to analyze the law.
Yeah, that would be my goal... I am kinda stuck on what Dickens had to say about the Law. I would, certainly, like to be shown how to make sense of it.
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Old 08-02-2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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I don't know, its always fascinated me. I really enjoyed business law while working at my MBA.

I like learning stuff, excel at schoolwork and learning and its an interesting subject. I don't want to pass the bar and go into practice.

I have time on my hands sometimes, and thought I'd learn Spanish or something, but never got around to it.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:39 PM   #6
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I can recommend the following books, which are considered classics in the field. They won't teach you what the law is, but they will give you a feel for the often conflicting philosophical, social and economic undercurrents that inform our decisions about how the process should work and what the substantive outcome might be.

Plato - The Socratic Dialogues
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. -- The Common Law
Benjamin N. Cardozo -- The Nature of the Judicial Process
Anthony Lewis -- Gideon's Trumpet
Richard Posner -- Economic Analysis of Law
Guido Calabresi -- The Costs of Accidents: A Legal and Economic Analysis

These are among the books that I studied in law school; I'm sure I have forgotten many others. When I graduated, I didn't know anything about what the law actually is with respect to any particular area, but I could expound for hours on what it should be. Thankfully, there are bar review courses, so I could learn enough to pass the bar and become a lawyer.

I'm sure the other lawyers on here will chime in with some of their favorites.
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:13 AM   #7
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To me, law is hysterical. A doctor learns much of what will make him a good doctor in medical school and his residency. There seems to be a continuum, for sure more specialized and practice oriented as he advances in training, but still a clear continuum.

On the other hand, it seems that law students learn a lot of highly theoretical constructs which may be useful to them if they wind up clerking for a Supreme Court Justice, or better yet teaching other law students; but might actually be detrimental if they are doing day to day criminal or family or personal injury or even tort law.

But winning day to day cases seems to be more involved with staying on the right side of judges, skillfil jury selection, venue and other maneuvers, brinksmanship, and perhaps above all being able to tell a convincing story to jurors. Once a good con like John Edwards gets a few huge awards, the insurers and tobacco and other companies are scared sh*tless when they hear his name. That is a big help too.
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:29 AM   #8
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If your goal is to practice law, I wouldn't go the self study route unless you have no option. I would also check out the admission criteria in your jurisidction before going any further.

If you want to learn more about the law because you find it interesting, you should ask which aspects of law you are interested in. While some of the texts are of general application, there is a lot of specialisation in practising law. If you want a reading list, I'd suggest going to one of the leading law schools in your area and getting a copy of the reading list for the subjects that interest you.
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:57 AM   #9
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Once again, why do you want to do this. If it's general curiosity then there are probably many books to help you.

If you want to make a lot of $ (and/or screw a lot of people), get a CFP or a mutual fund sales licence.
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:44 AM   #10
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I don't know, its always fascinated me. I really enjoyed business law while working at my MBA.

I like learning stuff, excel at schoolwork and learning and its an interesting subject. I don't want to pass the bar and go into practice.

I have time on my hands sometimes, and thought I'd learn Spanish or something, but never got around to it.
I think learning Spanish might be more useful. . .

Gumby has a good list. For more basic review of the law Amazon seems to have a lot of options: Amazon.com: Law: Books

A number of years ago I taught a business law class for MBA students. It gave me a different perspective on how to communicate legal concepts from how concepts are learned in law school. For example, in law school you learn contracts inside out and backwards by reading cases on contracts gone awry and those cases have different judges perspectives on what makes a contract. Nothing like reading cases to learn how to spot issues, reason and analyze, and construct solid arguments. This makes you a better contract writer and is the foundation for handling contract disputes. In contrast to what Ha said, I found reading cases extremely concrete, rather than reading about abstractions of what are the elements of a contract. A business law course can be helpful as an overview, but lacks this kind of depth.

One of the hardest concepts to grasp in criminal law is the concept of intent. Reading about intent is too abstract. Reading cases where intent was an issue and seeing how different judges deal with varying fact situations was extraordinarily helpful. I have never practiced criminal law but I understand criminal law even though I haven't taken a course in criminal law for 30 years.

I guess that I am not being helpful here.
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:11 AM   #11
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I've had many discussions with a buddy of mine about intent. He went thru law school, but never got a job in the field, and is now a software developer. We discussed the recent 4th amendment ruling, about the right to remain silent too.

I think I'm just bored at work. I feel like I'm getting dumber just sitting here.

Sure, I could get yet another IT cert (that I'd never use) or something else IT related, but it has little bearing on my current job.
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:39 AM   #12
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I thought most self-study law went on in the big house sorry, bill
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:43 AM   #13
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Bimmerbill, I say go for it. A JD will cost you some serious cash, even online. But I have numerous former colleagues who did theirs while working and all the comments that I recall were very positive.

Here are some interesting lectures and very entertaining to boot.
Lectures on Law
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:01 PM   #14
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Is there even an online JD program? One that would allow you to practice after passing the bar?

I gotta hit google again, lol.
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:11 PM   #15
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The requirements vary by state. In California you can sit for the bar exam directly with a degree from an ABA accredited school. If you have a degree from an unaccredited (presumably an online program wouldn't be accredited), you can still sit for the bar but you have to meet additional requirements and/or testing.

I would recommend picking an area you are interested in (maybe estate planning, tax planning, etc. would be good if you are here) and use free resources such as Findlaw.com and libraries to teach yourself. You mentioned you are in IT, so if you have coding experience you would find that analysis of statutes is similar to coding in terms of logically breaking down problems into smaller parts.
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:01 PM   #16
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The magic of Google. Looks like for someone not wanting to go to the actual campus or classroom, this place will award a JD online. It gives a detailed course outline. Looks expensive but for $26k, you got a JD.


California Southern University
Wiki on California Southern
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:35 PM   #17
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The magic of Google. Looks like for someone not wanting to go to the actual campus or classroom, this place will award a JD online. It gives a detailed course outline. Looks expensive but for $26k, you got a JD.


California Southern University
Wiki on California Southern
I can't imagine online law school. Note the disclosures they are required to make, including that you can't sit for the bar in any state but California.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:00 PM   #18
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I also can't envision law school on-line. The great majority of the learning occurs when you read hundreds of cases and discuss the legal concepts presented with other students. The best professors act to facilitate these discussions, poking and questioning to bring out the niggling details and the subtext that lurks in each case. Hearing someone else bring up a point that she drew from the case and being able to respond or question in real time is absolutely essential. I don't see how that can occur on-line.
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