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Five Steps to Become a Lawyer

Will Rogers, an American comedian, once said that “if you read something that you don’t understand it is likely that it was written by a lawyer.” He might be surprised at how long it takes for people to get the skills needed to write in a way that confuses.

Although there are many paths that lead to being a lawyer, they all tend to be difficult and long. Let’s take a look at five steps that lead to becoming a lawyer.

Step 1: Obtain an undergraduate degree

Law schools are looking for well-rounded students. Most law schools do not require that you major in a specific subject as an undergraduate. There is evidence to suggest that law schools favor students who study areas other than prelaw.

Lawyers who want to become intellectual property lawyers should consider a technical background, such as engineering, chemistry or biology.

Although law schools do not require that you study a specific subject, most law schools require that you have a bachelor’s degree.

At least one ABA-approved law school (Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School), will accept “exceptional students”, who do not have a bachelor’s degree. The school warns, however, that not all state bar associations will allow students without a bachelor’s degree to sit for the bar exam.

Step 2: Take Law School Admissions Tests (LSAT).

The LSAT is a standardized exam administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), at testing centers across the country, several times each year.

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To be admitted to law school, you must take the LSAT. Your LSAT score is a major factor in law schools. It is important that you take the LSAT seriously. Most admissions counselors recommend that you study for at least three months.

Step 3: Apply for law schools

You will need to choose and apply for law school based in part on your GPA and LSAT score.

  • There are many factors that influence the decision to attend law school.
  • Your GPA, LSAT scores
  • Attendance fee
  • The school’s location
  • Bar passage rates
  • Rates of employment
  • The school offers a variety of specializations (including clinics)
  • Faculty
  • Accreditation

Step 4: Complete your law school

To graduate from an ABA-approved school of law, a student must have completed at least 83 credit hours. 64 credit hours must be taken in courses that require regular attendance at classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction.

These 83 credit hours must also be completed within 24 months, and, except for exceptional circumstances, not later than 84 month after the student begins law school. Law students will need to complete their J.D. in between 2-7 years. Most students complete law school within 3 years.

Step 5: Pass the bar examination

You must pass the bar exam in the state where you wish to practice law before you are allowed to practice.

What’s the bar exam?

The Board of Bar Examiners of each state administers the bar exam.

  • Although testing may vary from one state to the next, the most common configuration is a 2-day bar examination that includes the following components.
  • Multistate Bar Examination (MBE). This exam covers civil procedure, contracts and torts, criminal law, procedure, evidence, and real property. It lasts 6 hours and is 200 questions long.
  • Multistate Essay Examination (MEE). This exam consists of six essay questions that cover business associations, civil procedure and conflict of laws, contracts, criminal procedure and procedure, family and real property, secured transactions and torts, estates and trusts, and family law.
  • State-specific essays. Some states have additional essays that are state-specific or multiple choice questions.
  • Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Two 90-minute skills questions consisting of factual analysis, legal reasoning, problem solving and identification and resolution for ethical dilemmas.
  • Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). Multiple-choice exam concerning ethics.

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