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How Do I Become a Lawyer?

Prospective lawyers must earn a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school.
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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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The process to become a lawyer is often a difficult and arduous task that includes a substantial amount of schooling and requires the total commitment of the student. While it is not necessary to begin preparing to become a lawyer in high school, if that is the career path you have chosen, that would be the best place to start. Excelling in high school helps gain acceptance into the best colleges.

The undergraduate degree is the first step in the process. To become a lawyer, the best path to choose for the undergraduate degree is one that allows a good background in the area of law you are choosing. For example, corporate lawyers may start with a business degree. Constitutional lawyers may find a history degree is the best strategy. Many schools also offer pre-law degrees, which provide a more generalized background in preparation for law school.

Once the undergraduate degree is obtained, or perhaps even before it is obtained, students must take the LSAT in order to be accepted into law school. This test is a substantial obstacle for anyone wanting to become a lawyer. There are five sections, each timed to 35 minutes. The test is scored on a scale ranging from 120 to 180.

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These results, along with a writing sample, are sent to prospective law schools to which you apply. These law schools then determine whether you meet their standards for acceptance. Generally, these standards stay fairly consistent, though they may change from year to year slightly, depending on the strength of the applicant pool.

The expenses involved can also present an obstacle for those wishing to become a lawyer. After going through four years of college and taking the LSAT, there are still three years of schooling left before receiving a law degree. Funding can sometimes be a problem. Therefore, it is important students look at all of their options for funding sources. While scholarships and grants are nice, work study, fellowships and loans may also be needed.

Once in law school, it may be necessary to then choose a specialty. Some students focus on criminal law while others may focus on corporate law or any one of a number of other specialties. Still, for the first year or so, the classes will be uniform for nearly every student, so you have some time to think about this.

Once you have successfully met the requirements of the law school, you will receive the Juris Doctor law degree. This means you have almost completed all the steps required to become a lawyer. While this accomplishment is a great one, it still does not mean you are a lawyer. There is one more step left in the process.

The last step, in many cases, is taking the bar exam. The bar exam is administered by the bar association in each state. In order to even take the bar, states require a certain set of criteria be met. After passage of the bar exam, the student has become a lawyer. However, after the bar is passed, some states may require a multistate professional responsibility exam. This is an ethics test meant to ensure the highest of ethical standards are met for those becoming lawyers.

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anon943235
Post 11

To become a lawyer, what courses must be taken after 10th class in India?

anon268053
Post 10

What is the bar exam? I want to be an attorney, but what is the difference between lawyers and attorneys?

please help ASAP --Laura G.

anon154278
Post 9

my dad is a lawyer and i really want to follow his steps but you need to be called in a "bar" school. You know in greece (my country) you need to do physiology and english to pass the five years in law school provided. Man it's too hard. but dad always nags me to do reading and stand up for myself. hope this helps.

smileydunz
Post 8

I'm 15 going on 16 and my options on law are open but difficult because i also want to be a police officer. But if I'm in high school, what courses do i have to take?

anon81344
Post 7

To become a lawyer in kenya you have to pass an LLb degree and then join kenya school of law for two years and then you will be admitted to the law society and given a practising certificate.

anon71146
Post 6

If I don't have a degree can I just study and take the bar exam?

Has anyone passed the bar exam without a degree?

anon42703
Post 5

I would like to be a lawyer what can i do? Or how can i represent myself or defend myself in court? What is the prcedure? i am in nairobi, kenya. can you advise?

anon40225
Post 4

i am planning to attend law school in the near future, just filed chapter 7 for second time and may have tax liens for a few years. will these things prevent me from being accepted to the bar?

mzod23
Post 3

Good Day Everyone!

I just have one question.

Does you have to be a natural born US citizen if you want to be a lawyer or at least take the bar exam? Thanks.

anon26127
Post 2

If you filed for bankruptcy for the purpose of fraud, then you will not be admitted to the bar. But, generally, bankruptcy is not a "bar" to bar admission. I'm not sure if it will be difficult to gain employment at a firm with a bankruptcy on your record, but remember that bankruptcies disappear from your record after some time, so you may just want to wait until after that time has passed to begin your practice of law.

anon24614
Post 1

I will have to file for bankruptcy because of the mortgage crisis, but I would like to become a lawyer. How difficult is it to be hired as a lawyer if you have filed for bankruptcy? What doors will definitely be shut? Is going to law school even worth it if you've filed for bankruptcy?

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