You’ve decided to parlay your skills and energy into becoming a lawyer. At some point, you should become one of the 1.3 million attorneys across the United States. Although the field is mocked by some, it’s an important career path with beneficial effects for many.
So, the next question is how do you become a lawyer? Here are the basic steps to reach this goal.
You won’t get near your dream if you don’t take higher education courses related to the sector. It starts at a four-year college. It’s here that you enroll in a pre-law curriculum.
What’s offered depends on the institution. Some of the most common courses you must take to get to the next level of certification are:
- Civil Procedures
- Legal Writing
- Constitutional Law
- Criminal Law
- Legal Ethics & Professionalism
In addition to class time, you must complete several credits of experiential learning before you start law school. These are courses that simulate various legal environments.
This includes law clinics and externships. The latter is different than an internship. In an externship, you shadow an attorney to observe their daily duties.
Take The LSAT
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) assesses the knowledge you gained in your four-year college program. You’re tested on logical reasoning proficiency and reading comprehension. You must take the LSAT to qualify for entry into a law school.
Most likely, one of the classes you take in your fourth year is for LSAT review. It helps you understand its structure and provides sample questions. There may be an option to schedule a time to take the exam during the class. Or, it could take place as the last test for the course.
Once you successfully get past your LSAT you enroll in law school. Normally, the curriculum is three years. The goal of law school is to obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
The courses you take are more intense. Professors could ask you to start a discussion about the day’s readings without notice. You must read and comprehend various aspects of the law. Furthermore, you could end up with an internship at a law firm. There, you would help prepare records, file court actions, and be involved with various cases.
Passing the Bar
Obtaining a JD degree doesn’t mean you’re a lawyer quite yet. To be officially registered as an attorney in your state you must pass the bar exam. Created by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), it tests the knowledge every person should have to be approved to practice.
The Unified Bar Exam (UBE) is comprised of three components. The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is the open-book portion that asks you to produce material like a brief. The Multistate Essay Exam (MEE) has you complete six essay questions. Finally, you answer multiple-choice questions in the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE).
Continuing Legal Education
When you successfully pass the bar exam you’re officially a licensed attorney. However, you’re not done with your education. To maintain your certification you must take Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses.
These classes are related to the enhancement of professional development once you’re admitted to the bar. The number of credit hours and the accepted classes is determined by the state where you’re licensed. For instance, to complete NC CLE you’d look at a site like TRTCLE to get your bearings.
Failure to complete these could result in the suspension of your certification. Thus, it’s critical to keep track of what’s required.
The basics of how to become a lawyer seem daunting. Not only do you need to devote seven years to class time. You also need to consider the cost of college and law school. This could be well over $100,000.
However, there’s an immense return on investment as soon as you’re admitted to the bar. When you combine your knowledge of the law with your tenacity, you’re able to help individuals and businesses that can’t help themselves. In doing so, you gain trust in the community and among your co-workers.
In the end, carefully consider the course to become a lawyer. Weigh the pros and cons and speak to your mentors to hear their opinions. Collect this information to determine if you’re ready to take on the challenge.