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How Do I Become an Attorney in the United States?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Whether just deciding on a career in the legal profession or wishing to immigrate to the United States and continue an already established career as an attorney, there are several essential steps that are necessary to become an attorney in the USA. Here are few basic points to consider.

For a US citizen who wishes to become a lawyer, the process begins by successfully completing a degree program at an accredited university or college. This can be a bachelor’s degree in just about any discipline. Typically, degrees that encourage a great deal of attention to detail and the development of solid research skills are a good choice. A degree in English, history, or political science can go a long way toward developing habits that will serve the individual well in the effort to become an attorney.

Next, acceptance into an accredited law school is essential. Most law schools require an admissions exam, and will use those scores along with past academic performance to determine if the candidate may be admitted. Upon acceptance, the student will need to comply with all stipulations associated with admission before beginning to take classes.

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Understanding that even if you plan on focusing on a particular discipline within your practice of law, you will spend the first few years of your training to become an attorney learning broad legal areas. This will provide you with the proper grounding in current law, precedents, and procedures that will be helpful in later years. Patience may be required at times, as the importance of the data may not seem apparent at first.

During the final portion of your formal education, you will want to invest in a clerkship. This may take place during summer breaks, or on a part time basis during school sessions. Clerking will provide you with valuable insights into the day to day operations of a law office, as well as allow you to begin networking with your peers in the legal field.

Upon graduation from law school, your final step will be to take the bar examination required by your state of residence. Upon successfully completing the examination, you will be able to receive credentials from the state bar association and be registered with the state court system to practice law.

For attorneys who were trained outside the United States, it is possible to achieve recognition of your prior credentials and be able to become an attorney in the United States. Many state bars will evaluate previous educational credentials and admit a solicitor from another country to practice law upon successful completion of the bar exam. In some instances, the educational level may be deemed to not be up to standards necessary to become an attorney in the United States, and the candidate may be required to take courses at an accredited domestic law school before permission to take the bar exam is granted.

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sunshine31
Post 6

Mutsy-I think that many attorneys get into the field to help the little guy. I think that is why I would become an attorney.

I would want to help children that don’t have a legal voice. Many apply at the district attorney’s office and later learn how to become an assistant district attorney.

The district attorney who is elected divides of the caseload among the assistant district attorneys. My brother in law did this for a while and you really hear about some gruesome cases- enough to keep you up at night.

mutsy
Post 5

Cafe41-Many people may wonder if becoming an attorney is worth it. Often law school graduates are disillusioned when they find out that this career while offers significant prestige requires a lot of working hours and is not as glamorous as it is portrayed on television.

Corporate lawyers are among the highest paid specialty in the legal field, but they usually work on contracts and do not do litigation. In fact, there are many types of lawyers that never see the inside of a courtroom.

Lawyers handling bankruptcy cases usually handle legal contracts regarding the bankruptcy of the client. There is a lot of work in this field but you will never see these types of cases on television because it is not Law and Order.

cafe41
Post 4

Oasis11-Becoming an attorney is challenging and requires a bachelor’s degree along with a JD or Juris Doctor degree.

The JD degree is earned once you successfully complete the three years of law school. In order to seek entrance to law school you will have to take the LSAT, which is similar to the SAT for law school.

After you graduate from law school, you then have to study for the Bar exam. The Bar exam preparation along with the years of law school experience should prepare you for this exam.

Passage of the Bar is critical in order to obtain your legal license to practice in the state. There are really the steps on how to become an attorney. Some people take the Bar exam several times. It was reported the John F Kennedy Jr took the New York about three times before he passed.

oasis11
Post 3

Triniprof- That is a great question. In order to practice law in the United States, you would have to take the Bar exam of the respective state that you intend to practice in.

For example, if you are considering practicing in New York, you would have to pass the New York Bar exam. There are great courses that prepare you for the exam, but you would have to be familiar with the statutory laws and current case law.

triniprof
Post 1

I am completing a diploma in Law with The University of London. This would give me automatic entry into the LLB program. I have intention of living in the US after completion of the Diploma. How can I continue my Law education in the United States?

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