Weelllll the thing is, Law School does the whole Socratic method thing. But they also teach to the Bar Exam. This doesn't mean that a Bar Review course isn't needed -- they are! But when in the Bar Review course they talk about Pennoyer v. Neff
, you know wtf they're talking about.
I have met many paralegals and/or people who were referred to as paras and billed out as same (I used to audit law firms, plus I also used to teach paralegal courses). Some paralegal work (e. g. preparing briefs and trial memoranda, and doing research) is smart, difficult work that is spot-on for becoming a lawyer. Other paralegal work, e. g. writing basic letters to judges, proofreading briefs, scheduling depositions, asking for more time to answer a pleading, etc. is not much beyond clerical work. This is not to disparage administrative assistants or paras and it is not to say that the law doesn't involve a lot of that because God knows it does. But what I will say is that the quality of paralegal tasks and experiences varies considerably from para to para, firm to firm and state to state.
When the one year of para work has to be supplemented with six years of study (while, possibly, not making too much $$ because you're busy studying, plus you are pushing back your lawyer earning years), three years of Law School starts to look like, potentially, a decent deal in terms of the price.
Look into prices and look into evening study. There is a significant price differential between NYU and Touro College Law School (see: http://www.ilrg.com/rankings/law/tuition.php/1/desc/Tuition
). When I was at Law School, you could attend at night at my school, plus you could go over the summer, and I suspect that is still true there and in many other places. Independent studying for the Bar is possible but it is not for the faint at heart.