Someone recently asked me what my profession was and when I responded with “attorney” they immediately asked – well how long did it take you to become an attorney? What did you have to do for that? It then dawned on me that the process to becoming an attorney is often overlooked by many. While attending law school is clearly one of the requirements, there are a number of other steps along the way of reaching the goal of becoming a lawyer. These steps often begin as early as high school or even one’s first year of college.
Although there is no set major or minor an individual looking to become an attorney must obtain before law school, a college student’s grades are important if they have any inkling towards potentially attending law school as GPA is among the main considerations factored in during a review of a law school application. Also, because law school is geared towards reading, research and writing, it doesn’t hurt to have a major that focuses on these skills as well. Moreover, there are pre-law courses and pre-law groups that college students can and should utilize to help them not only understand the application process for applying to law school, but also, to help them understand what additional requirements there are for becoming an attorney once law school is completed.
In addition to maintaining a solid GPA and putting research into the law school application process, students must also take the LSAT or in other words the Law School Admissions Test. The LSAT tests students on their analytical and critical reasoning skills as well as their research and writing skills. Students are then given an LSAT score which is another huge element of the law school application and therefore it’s important to take the time to prep for the LSAT either on your own or through a prep course.
The LSAT is only the beginning to the law school journey. Individuals then must research the various law schools around the country and start the application process which can take time to complete. Once accepted to law school, there are a number of certain courses that are required of students and specific courses in which a certain grade level must be achieved in order for the student to move on with their studies. Law school typically lasts three years; however, schools are now implementing rapid degree programs where you can obtain your degree in two years. Although many think graduating law school is the end of the process; there’s one more step on this path which is often thought to be the hardest and most challenging step along the way – taking the bar exam.
Although each state has its own set of requirements, for the most part, to be admitted to practice law, you must have passed a bar exam. The bar exam is a two-three day test that quizzes you on a variety of legal topics as well as your legal writing skills. Students often study for this exam for months at a time and take prep courses to prepare for the same. In addition to the bar exam, there is a character and ethics part of the process to becoming admitted to practice law which an individual also must pass to be admitted to a bar association.
After successfully completing a bar exam and being admitted to practice law, attorneys must stay current with their continuing legal education credits in order to stay active within their respective bar associations.
In sum, although everyone’s path to becoming an attorney is different, this blog should give you some insight into the hard work that your lawyer has put in over the years!