Despite the stiff competition in the legal market, there is still an increasing number of people who want to become lawyers in the United States. Some students proceed to law school immediately after completing their Bachelor’s Degree. Some opt to gain work experience before deciding to earn their Juris Doctor degree.
You can only call yourself an attorney in the US once you have satisfied all the requirements to become a lawyer. Here is a list of the standard requirements for the practice of law in the US.
You will need to have completed a Bachelor’s degree before you can apply for law school. It is not important which undergraduate degree you choose. However, there is a certain branch of law you want to specialize in, a complimentary Bachelor’s degree is a big help – if you want to be a Patent lawyer, you must have an Engineering degree.
The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) administered by the Law School Admission Council is one of the admission requirements to a law school. Accredited law schools in the US have varied admission requirements but a Bachelor’s degree, an above-average LSAT test score, and letters of recommendation are constant requirements.
Most prospective law students are advised to schedule their LSAT test one year before they intend to attend law school.
One of the requirements to become a full-fledged lawyer is to complete a Juris Doctor program from an American Bar Association-accredited law school. Here are the application requirements in most Law schools:
• LSAT score
• GPA of at least 3.0 for your undergraduate degree
• Three Letters of Recommendation from your professors, other professionals, and practicing lawyers.
• Personal Statement ( include any professional experience in any field)
• Personal References
• Application Fee
Curriculum requirements for Law students include:
• First Year. It provides the foundation for the rest of your legal studies.
• Criminal Law
• Civil Procedure
• Legal Research and Writing
These classes will help you become familiar with subjects covered on most multistate bar exams. Not all of these classes will fit into your first-year curriculum. You can take some of the classes during your second and third years.
• Second Year and Third Year
During your second year in law school, you can choose the most of your classes. Law schools, however, recommend that you must take courses in legal research, constitutional law, and legal writing.
Legal research and writing are not covered in the Bar exam, there are several essay questions. You will need the techniques taught in your legal research and writing course to effectively answer the essay questions.
A course in Legal Ethics is also a requirement in your second or third year in law school. You will need this knowledge for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. It will also work to your advantage if you choose electives that will help you prepare for the Bar exam two months after completing law school.
Not all states require that you attend law school to be able to practice law. Completing law school though is a strict requirement in most states.
Passing the Bar exam is one of the final requirements to become a practicing lawyer in the US. You need to pass the State Bar exams in a given state to be able to legally practice law in that state. If you intend to practice law in several states, you will need to pass the Bar exams in these states.
Each state has varying State bar requirements. Alabama, for instance, requires a Bachelor’s Degree, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, and a Masters in Law (L.L.B) before taking the State Bar exam. California on the other hand only requires the completion of a two-year pre-legal course and 4-years of legal education before taking the State Bar exam.
This review covers questions on an aspiring lawyer’s character at law school, any disciplinary actions in college and law school, social conduct, criminal history, and general conduct. Other inquiries may also be done to gauge the ethical make-up of an aspiring lawyer. An aspiring lawyer needs to pass this review before obtaining his state law license.
After being admitted to the Bar, prospective lawyers need to take a legally binding oath. This oath states that they will uphold the codes and Constitution of the United States as well as the constitution and laws of the state issuing his law license.
After completing all of the above requirements, you will finally receive your Law License. Your license will be issued by the Supreme Court or high-court equivalent of the state where you passed the Bar Exam. You must check with your state’s bar association for any specific requirements they may have before issuing your law license.
The American Bar Association suggests that you need to possess these skills to become a lawyer in the US:
As a lawyer, you will need to understand and analyze voluminous information. You must be able to read fast, have high comprehension and determine facts that are important to a case. You will then need to write this information.
Some legal specialties require lawyers to be good at speaking. Some require good writing skills. In general, however, lawyers need to read, speak, and write effectively.
Lawyers can only effectively help their clients if they are good listeners with a high level of comprehension. He needs to intently listen to his client to understand the facts of a certain situation. Cases are based on details and information, thus a lawyer must be able to quickly pick up these details.
A litigation lawyer’s effective cross-examination of a witness depends on his comprehension abilities. He needs to completely understand what the witness is saying so he can shoot effective questions.
Although lawyers often speak, they need to be good listeners too so they can effectively help their clients.
Lawyers need to connect facts to the law. They must be able to analyze a situation and find the law that applies to a certain situation. Given the facts, they also need to determine if these are exceptions to the rule. Logical thinking is needed to find discrepancies in his opponent’s arguments.
Law School Admission Tests are made up of many logic games. This is so because lawyers need to create logical reasons and arguments as well as quickly evaluate to arguments of their opponents.
Whether you are engaged in private practice, work for a government agency, or a Judge, as a lawyer you will need to deal with software systems. Lawyers should, therefore, be knowledgeable with the latest technology.
At the least, lawyers should know how to use the software system to prepare documents. Many law firms today use software for legal research, to manage clients’ files, and prepare clients’ bills.
In the practice of their profession, it is common for lawyers to receive good and bad news. There are times when the wheels of justice act slow. Several times they will need to negotiate with opposing counsel. Several times too heated arguments arise in the courtroom and negotiation table. Lawyers need a lot of patience to see them through the day.
Lawyers engage in private practice are running a business. They need to be knowledgeable in getting clients, as well as billing and payment processes. In a law firm, the product is the service provided by the lawyer. Lawyers must, therefore, know how to market their services.
Lawyers need to have in-debt knowledge of business management to run an effective law firm.