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In a book recently, I saw a reference to someone "reading law" at such and such a university in England. But I thought "reading law" was a way to bypass law school and still enter the law profession (after passing the bar I presume). Is that only in the United States? Any other countries?

Does England have a similar way to become a lawyer without going to college? Then what do they call it?

In the US, do persons who read law and then become lawyers get to put anything after their name? Obviously they would not be permitted to put J.D.

  • I think there should be existing an exam for the candidates who want to accept professional careers, all over the world. – Enthusiastic Engineer Sep 3 '14 at 20:47
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Some rightpondian can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "reading" in this context is British for "studying", and it does usually imply university study. The person in question is most likely attending the equivalent of law school.

In the US, lawyers typically write "Esq." after their name, which doesn't really signify anything specific but is traditional. This doesn't have anything to do with degrees they may or may not have. (And even lawyers with a J.D. degree don't usually write J.D. after their names, nor use the title Dr.)

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    Yes, it almost certainly means 'is studying for an undergraduate degree in law', although possibly without the word 'undergraduate'. – Jessica B Sep 3 '14 at 21:41
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    I agree with @JessicaB. Some students would say "I am reading Law" instead of "I am studying Law". From watching University Challenge (quiz show for university students here in the UK), it tends to be people from "posh" universities who say this (Oxford, Cambridge etc.). I went to the University of Reading, and never heard anyone say this there. Edited to add: this isn't just restricted to Law degrees. People will say that for whatever subject they are studying. – emmalgale Sep 4 '14 at 13:04
  • It's a traditional way of saying "studying for a degree", and gets used for all subjects, not just law. I don't think its usage is based on the university you study at so much as on context - I'm at Oxford, and hardly anyone would talk about "reading" their subject outside of a prospectus. The contexts in which I'd normally expect to hear it are: (i) on University Challenge (in which collegiate universities tend to be disproportionately represented because there's a team for each college) and (ii) in bios for people in "professional" jobs (because they think it sounds posh). – Stuart Golodetz Jan 9 '16 at 12:06
  • In the UK, "Esq." is rarely used, but essentially just means "Mr." It's generally only used in official correspondence from places like Buckingham Palace, or by people who either (i) have airs and graces, or (ii) are pretending to have airs and graces for amusement value. – Stuart Golodetz Jan 9 '16 at 12:11
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This is a little old now, but I came across it and as a UK law student, I feel obliged to answer. Reading law in this context is exactly the same as studying law, and as someone else already mentioned, it is said by more 'well to do' students, not generally usual day to day conversation.

The letters that would go after a qualified solicitor/ barrister (The two types of legal profession we have here in the UK), could be LLB, which is the degree itself they qualified with before going on to do either of the professional courses, or it could be simply whatever the highest degree level they have achieved so far.

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You're right. Reading the law (in the US, at least) is practicing law (as an attorney, etc.) without a law degree. Passing the bar examination is still required; and in lieu of a law degree, some kind of tutelage, or apprenticeship is typically required. I believe it's no longer legal in most states.

Despite this, the general consensus seems to be that the phrase is being used in a different context (in this instance).

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