Education, Skills, Effort Needed to Become a Lawyer
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The path to becoming a lawyer is demanding. It requires several years of college education and law school, passing a state bar exam, and meeting character and fitness requirements based on current and past conduct.
Each state sets the eligibility standards to become a lawyer licensed to practice in that state. Many states require a college under-graduate degree.
Although law schools do not require a special college degree for admission, courses of study in history,
English, philosophy and business tend to be popular with potential law students. In any area of study, demanding courses that develop
research and writing skills are sound preparation for the law school experience, as well as for a career in law.
Not all students enroll in law school immediately after college graduation. Some decide to pursue a career in law following work experience in other fields. Skills in problem solving, critical reading, research, writing and communication are beneficial to success in the study and practice of law and can be acquired in many fields of work and education and from life experience.
Prospective law students take the Law School Admission Test. This is a standardized test administered six times a year at testing centers around the country. The half-day examination tests reading comprehension, as well as logical and verbal reasoning.
Law schools use LSAT test scores, college grades and other factors in considering applicants for admission.
After law school graduation, all prospective lawyers must pass a bar examination in the state in which they wish to practice. All states recognize graduation from a three-year program at a law school approved by the American Bar Association as meeting the educational requirements for eligibility to sit for the bar.
Law school graduates must also meet the state’s character and fitness requirements to be permitted to take the state’s bar examination. Bar
exams are usually taken over 2-3 days.
A lawyer’s education doesn’t end after passing the bar exam and being admitted to practice. Most states require between 12 and 15
hours of additional legal study each year, known as mandatory continuing legal education, to maintain eligibility to practice law.
In addition to the rigorous study and testing required to become a lawyer, there is also the expense. The cost of a legal education can be significant.
Generally speaking, public law schools are less expensive than private schools, and in-state tuition in public law schools is less than tuition for out-of-state students. Scholarships and discounted tuition are sometimes available to students with high LSAT scores. Even so, most students borrow some or all the tuition costs to finance their legal education.
Lawyers make a significant investment of time, effort and money in preparation to be admitted as members of their profession.
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