What are the professional requirements for a person to become a lawyer? This is a question that you might have asked yourself especially if you are planning to practice law career. The following information elaborates further on these requirements and will help to answer the above question.
There are several standards that you need to attain first before you qualify to be called a lawyer or an attorney. These include educational qualifications, exemplary performance in a bar examination as well as clearance for certain background checks and moral character.
Before legally practicing as a lawyer, it is crucial for an individual to clearly understand what is required of him or her as an attorney. This helps in making decisions regarding the profession. For instance while you want to decide whether to follow a path in this legal career. This ultimately ensures that we only have qualified lawyers and it is therefore easier to find one when need arises.
The following is a breakdown of the standard requirements for law practice and their descriptions:
1. Bachelor's Degree
This is the first requirement for you to join this career. Before pursuing a law degree, you must first undertake a bachelor's degree program or at least its equivalent. Here the requirement is any undergraduate degree. However, the undergraduate degree taken always indicates the preferred area of practice. For instance, if you intend to practice patent law you should consider taking a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field.
Successful completion of a bachelor's degree is followed by taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). This test is one of the tools that law school admission staff uses to assess students at the entry stage.
2. Law School
After passing the admission test, you are admitted to a law school. The general requirement at this stage is to graduate or at least complete three years of study in a law school which is accredited by the American Bar Association. This condition may slightly vary from one state to another. For example, in California the requirements are either of the following two options:
Graduation or at least four complete years of law school (this includes even non-accredited schools) and four years working in a judge's chamber program.
A study program which incorporates the above two educational methods.
There are other states such as Virginia, Vermont and Washington that allow the above options. On the hand, in other states like New York, you must complete at least a single year of law school before pursuing an additional form of legal training.
3. State Bar Examination
For you to legally practice law in a certain state, you must pass that specific state's bar examination. This is regardless of how well you might have done in law school; there are no exceptions for this test. Most of these exams are administered twice per year. They take approximately a period of eighteen hours which are distributed over three days. The test mainly involves essays about different law topics and other standard questions. The purpose of this examination is to evaluate how a person understands the law and their capacity for rational thought.
The number of state exams a lawyer passes dictates the number of states in which they can practice law. Therefore, for you to expand the boundaries of practice as a lawyer, the more state exams you take the better.
4. Review of Character and Fitness
Why is this an important step for an individual who is about to practice law? This process is necessary because practicing law involves handling critical situations where a lot is at stake. This may include large amounts of money and other property or even a client's freedom in some cases. It is therefore paramount for every prospective attorney to undergo a character and fitness review. Also, for you to obtain a state law license, you must pass this review. The review involves questioning the applicant about the following aspects:
- Criminal history
- General social behavior
- Academic conduct in law school
- Disciplinary actions in law school or college
It step very important for immigration lawyers.
All potential lawyers must take a legally binding oath. This is to signify that they are willing to uphold the laws of the licensing state as well as the Constitution of the United States.
This is the final step of becoming a legally practicing lawyer after attaining all the other requirements. The license is issued by the state's Supreme Court or an equivalent of the high-court. Nonetheless, you should consult your state's bar association for the detailed requirements for you to acquire a law license. If you need lawyer with licence you can find it here and here.