How to Become a Lawyer
Before Law School
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree – The first step in the process to becoming a lawyer is to go to law school. In order to go to law school, you must first have a bachelor’s degree. There is no particular undergraduate major required in order to get accepted to law school and to achieve success in law school. Some colleges offer “pre-law” majors, but taking a designated pre-law curriculum is not a prerequisite to becoming a lawyer.
2. Get good grades – Your academic record is of much more importance than your major. Your GPA and LSAT score are the overwhelming determining factors as to whether or not you will be accepted into law school and to which “tier” law school you are accepted.
3. Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) – The LSAT is a standardized test required as part of the admissions applications of all American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools. The score on the LSAT is given significant weight by many law schools in determining whether or not to admit a student. Typically students take the LSAT 12-18 months prior to the targeted law school start date. Because of its importance in the admissions process and ultimately in becoming an attorney, consider taking a commercial review course to prepare for the LSAT.
4. Apply to several law schools – Compile a list of ABA-accredited law schools to which to apply. In most states in order to sit for the Bar exam, you must have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school. Research the admissions criteria. Based on your LSAT score and your GPA, determine the schools that are likely to accept you, less likely to accept you, and back-ups. Law school application fees range anywhere from $40-$100. While fee waivers are available, it is a good idea to make sure the list of schools to which you are going to apply is well researched and focused.
During Law School
1. Study hard – While in law school work hard to achieve good grades. As you become more familiar with how to become a lawyer and learn how to get a job in law, you will find that the marketplace is quite competitive and that employers consider both law school grades and professional experience.
2. Learn about career paths – Early on in your law school career start researching how to get a job in law. You will discover that there are many different career paths for law school graduates.
3. Begin job search – In researching how to get a job in law, you will find that having part-time or summer employment while in law school will give you a competitive edge when seeking a permanent position. Check your school’s career placement office for both paid and unpaid openings.
After Law School
1. Pass the Bar exam – In order to receive a license to practice law in a particular jurisdiction, you must pass that jurisdiction’s Bar examination. The Bar exam is notoriously difficult with pass rates as low as 45% in some states. A commercial Bar exam prep course is advised before taking the actual Bar exam.
2. Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) – In most states in order to practice law you must pass the MPRE. The MPRE tests applicants on rules related to professional conduct.
3. Character and Fitness and the Oath – Finally, in order to obtain a license to practice law you must demonstrate that you have the requisite “character and fitness” to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. If a background investigation finds incidents that question your character or fitness, you may be denied a license to practice law. Applicants who do pass the background character check are then required to take an oath. Once that is done and fees are paid, you are a licensed member of the Bar.