A person famous for being famous says she has figured out a way to become a lawyer without attending law school.
Kim Kardashian West, the TV personality best known for publicizing herself, announced in a recent interview with Vogue that she will become a legal apprentice with #cut50, an Oakland-based organization working for prison reform. The TV figure said she already can do criminal law “in my sleep” and plans to study at home and take the bar exam in three years.
“The reading is what really gets me. It’s so time-consuming. The concepts I grasp in two seconds,” West told the magazine.
Alex Gudich, a spokesman for #cut50, said the apprenticeship will be in conjunction with “some of the real work we do.”
“We are excited to work with (West) as she she pursues her apprenticeship,” #cut50 said in a statement. “Like everyone on our team, (West) cares deeply about people negatively impacted by the criminal justice system.”
California is one of four states that allow legal apprentices to become lawyers without attending law school, if they are able to pass the bar exam. In California, legal apprentices must work 18 hours a week at a law office, study at home and take the notoriously difficult “baby bar exam” after the first year of apprenticeship to be allowed to continue. That exam requires applicants to craft complex legal analyses of four cases, typically running dozens of pages.
West’s last classroom experience was a brief period at a community college in Los Angeles before she dropped out.
Gudich said West would be following the “standard bar protocol and processes for the apprenticeship program.” It was not immediately clear how West’s current career would affect her ability to spend the required time in the Oakland office as well as hitting the books.
At #cut50, whose name refers to a goal of cutting prison sentences in 50 states, West will be working alongside and under the tutelage of Van Jones, a CNN pundit and former adviser to President Barack Obama, and #cut50’s Jessica Jackson, a former Mill Valley mayor. West will be their first formal apprentice.
As an advocate for reform, West is best known for meeting last spring with President Trump to request clemency for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother serving a life sentence for nonviolent drug offenses. The case was championed by #cut50. A week later, Trump granted the request.
Jones called West’s intervention in Johnson’s case “the most effective, emotionally intelligent intervention that I’ve ever seen in American politics.” Not every political expert agreed.
In addition to conferring with fellow reality show veteran Trump, West is known for modeling, for selling cosmetics, for making a sex tape, for being married to musician Kanye West and for being robbed at gunpoint in Paris.
The apprenticeship route to a legal career is usually chosen by those seeking to save on the average $150,000 tuition for three years of law school. West, said to be worth $350 million, would presumably not be in that category.
In California, 3 out of every 5 people who attended law school before taking the bar exam flunk the test. The success rate for the few legal apprentices who take the exam is believed to be even lower. A spokesman for the State Bar of California did not have statistics for that.
If West passes the bar exam, she would join Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson among apprentices who became lawyers without going to law school. If she flunks, she would not.