Each state sets its own standards for the admission of attorneys. Most states, including New York, outsource one aspect of this governmental function to the American Bar Association, a private voluntary organization. The aspect that states outsource is the determination of which institution’s graduates are eligible to sit for the state’s bar exam, and thus attempt to obtain entry into the profession.

George Leef, the director of Research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, has stated that “[u]ntil the 1920s, most lawyers learned what they needed to know as apprentices working in firms. But then the American Bar Association stepped in and lobbied for laws making a degree from an ABA-accredited law school a prerequisite for taking state bar examinations.”

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