Becoming a lawyer is not an easy journey to pursue, and therefore, you shouldn’t take this decision of becoming one lightly. Obtaining a legal license in the United States typically takes many years of hard work, dedication, and sometimes extensive student loan debt. But the good outweighs the bad and once you get to do this position as a full-time career, everything will be worth it in the end.
Although there are different paths to becoming an attorney, they can all be summarized into the general five steps that are listed below.
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Law schools seek well-rounded learners. That being the case, most of the schools don’t require pre-law as an undergraduate subject. Some tend to favor non-pre-law students.
That being said, if you’re aspiring to be a lawyer, have an undergrad degree that relates to your desired field. For instance, if you want to be an intellectual property attorney, have a technical background, such as engineering and computer science. While law schools do not require a specific discipline, most require a bachelor’s degree.
Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School is one ABA-approved law school that accepts “exceptional students” without a bachelor’s degree. In some states, a student without a bachelor’s degree cannot take the bar exam.
2. Ace Your Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
To be accepted into law school, you must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). It is a requirement for all ABA-approved law schools and most Canadian law schools. The half-day standardized tests test verbal reasoning and comprehension skills. Most schools use this information to evaluate prospects.
While this test does not always predict how well a person would do in law school, most schools give it equal weight to their undergrad GPA. So it would help if you took it seriously. Some schools recommend studying for at least three months.
Those with low GPAs can improve their chances of getting into law school by doing well on the LSAT. Many institutions also consider the LSAT when awarding financial aid.
3. Apply to a Law School and Earn a Juris Doctor (J.D) Degree
Most law schools are extremely selective, so bear this in mind when drafting your application. Admissions officers for J.D. programs often consider candidates’ GPAs and test scores, as well as their statements and resumes.
Legal experts encourage J.D. candidates to be selective when selecting a law school, as their decision may impact their future. As a future lawyer, you need to select a school with a track record of preparing individuals for their desired field of employment.
Law schools usually last three years that end with the acquisition of a J.D. degree. Normally, you’ll begin by studying constitutional law, property law, legal writing, contracts, and torts. Then you’ll select elective courses in your areas of interest, such as business law, tax law, or labor law. You may engage in mock trials, attend legal clinics, and write for a law magazine while in law school.
4. Pass the MPRE and Gain Professional Experience
While in school, you may be required to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. Its purpose is to assess your knowledge and grasp of established norms about a lawyer’s professional behavior.
When you must take it, the minimum passing score differs depending on your jurisdiction. So, early on in law school, conduct research on your jurisdiction’s requirements. A significant portion of law school entails networking (and simply working) to get a job before graduating.
Although you’ll be busy keeping up with your studies, be sure to find part-time work at a law firm. Look for assistant, messenger, file clerk, and intern opportunities to network, whether paid or unpaid.
Moreover, consider applying for summer associate and internship employment. The best technique for landing these opportunities is to network. So, attend student events, engage with professors, and keep an eye out for recruiters.
Because of the importance of networking, it’s very vital to find a school that allows you to learn on your terms, such as the TRTCLE. The flexibility that it offers will allow you to pursue other career value-adding initiatives. Besides, the school is an accredited Virginia CLE provider.
5. Pass the Bar
The final step to becoming a U.S. attorney or lawyer is to pass the bar exam. Like most students, you can take it immediately after graduation while the information is still fresh in your mind or wait till you feel the time is right, whichever works best for you. The exam differs by state; however certain components are automatically standardized.
Most law schools are extremely selective, so bear this in mind when drafting your application (see the top-ranking law schools here). Admissions officers for J.D. programs often consider candidates’ GPA and test scores, as well as their statements and resumes.
There you have it; five simple steps to reaching your law career goal. If you want to learn more, be sure to consult with an expert for more in-depth advice and information. Have fun starting your new journey as an attorney.