Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What if My Husband Dies?" - Part Ten

 Hello and belated Merry Christmas!

I've been very busy the last few weeks.  Spawn is old enough now that he has some idea that Christmas is a fun thing so I've been helping set up a Christmas tree, making ornaments for his teachers and wrapping presents.  I've also been enjoying having a relatively low stress Christmas since we have no outside obligations this year!  

When I got Spawn up Christmas morning, I realized that he was expecting Santa in our living room right now.  Thankfully, Spawn was very gracious when I explained that Santa had a very, very long day and night last night and was asleep at the North Pole with some tired reindeer.  

Spawn has grown into a little boy instead of a toddler this year.   As he's gotten older, I find him more and more fun to play with so I've definitely spent a few times where I meant to write a blog post playing on the floor with him.   He got a present from my brother that was a tractor and airplane that came with working toy drills.  He is currently "fixing" the floor and the couch using the drills which is adorable once I block out the continual whine of the drill sound.

As soon as Geoffrey Botkin brought up apprenticeships in his video "What If My Husband Dies?", I knew he'd bring this into the video:
[00:10:55]   You know in the State of Virginia you can actually do an apprenticeship to become an attorney. You don't need to go to law school.  You can actually do an apprenticeship to learn that trade which is how they viewed it in Virginia and it is still possible to be able to do that. 
Can you become a lawyer through an apprenticeship in Virginia? Yes.

Can a person follow the Botkin-approved methods of home schooling and self-study only and become and become an apprentice to a lawyer in Virginia?  Nope.

How long did it take me to determine that?  Under 30 seconds on the internet.  I googled "Virginia Law Apprenticeship Program" and found the Virginia Board of Bar Examiner's Law Reader Program website.  The first requirement for applicants is that they possess the correct moral character and fitness to be a lawyer.  No problems there - but the second requirement is that the applicant has finished a bachelor's degree from an accredited university.   

That's not happening unless you are Jasmine Holmes nee Baucham.

For argument's sake, let's pretend there's a College Plus graduate who lives in Virginia who has decided to give the apprenticeship route a shot.   

Finding a supervising attorney for the apprenticeship sounds hard.  
  • The person needs to have a broad enough legal career for the Bar to be assured that the lawyer can design the correct curriculum. 
  • They also need to have enough professional teaching experience that the Bar deems them capable of teaching.  
  • The person needs to have practiced law for at least 10 years and 10 of the previous 12 years in Virginia and is currently practicing law.  There is a loophole for Circuit Court judges to be the supervising attorney while retired - but only if the judge worked for at least 10 years on the Circuit and has been retired no less than 5 years.
  • The supervising lawyer needs to have a large enough law library that Bar can be certain that the apprentice can have unrestricted access to the law library during the three year program.   
There's a limited number of active lawyers who fit each of those descriptions.  Assuming a Virginia lawyer got through undergraduate work at 22, went directly into law school immediately, and spent the first ten years of their career working in varying legal fields, the earliest a supervising lawyer could take on a law reading apprentice is at age 35.   

Is that likely?  I doubt it.  A safer assumption would be that a supervising attorney would likely be closer to 50 years old than 35 - and that winnows down the field quite a bit.  

The Bar limits the number of law readers per supervising attorney to one - presumably because otherwise the attorney would be running a law school.   Because of that limitation, our legal eagle who was ready to be a supervising attorney at 35 would be able to supervise 10 law readers during a 30 year career.  The safer assumption of a supervising attorney beginning at age 50 would have 5 law readers during the remaining fifteen years of their career.   

But what about those retired Circuit Court judges?  Well, they can supervise a total of two law readers if they start one reader immediately on retirement and the second reader as soon as the first reader is done.

Finally, the supervising attorney is adding a whole lot of work to their lives - while still maintaining their legal career outside of the apprenticeship.    During the three-year program, the supervising lawyer needs to produce 40 weeks of curriculum yearly that keeps the student reading law occupied for a minimum of 25 hours a week.  For eighteen of the twenty five hours a week, the supervising attorney needs to be in the same physical location as the reader.  The reader is guaranteed to have 3 hours of one-on-one time a week with the supervising attorney to discuss the work the reader has completed - which means the supervising attorney needs to read and critique the law reader's work at some point.

Personally, I can see this system working fine for a former law school professor who wanted to leave academia but didn't want to entirely give up teaching.   That professional would have experience setting up curriculum, have colleagues from their former institution to get support from, and would possibly find the demands of a single law student refreshing compared to dealing with several classes at once.

For other's a heaps of work on top of a busy career.   

Tl;dr - Botkin didn't bother doing 30 seconds of reading before bringing Virginia's legal apprenticeship system into his fantasy world.   

But really - is that the worst thing?  Oh, no.  No, the worst thing is that he dumped this strange, half-baked fever dream in the middle of a podcast for a woman fearing widowhood with four sons still at home.    That's a far bigger travesty than Botkin's usual methodology of ignoring reality.