Lawyers provide legal advice on various issues such as marriage, properties, crime, and individual rights. Lawyers also advocate on behalf of their clients, draft and file legal documents such as wills and contracts. You need to obtain a license to practice law in the United States. The journey to becoming a lawyer may be challenging as it requires several years of training. The following are essential things that you must do before you start your law career.
Obtain a Degree Program
Obtaining an undergraduate degree program is the first thing you should do to become a lawyer. In the United States, individuals who want to enroll in a law school should first acquire an undergraduate degree. You must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above if you wish to pursue any career in the legal field.
At this step, you are not required to major in any subject. However, students who choose their majors when pursuing their undergraduate degrees can be disadvantaged if they attain a lower GPA. This can also limit them from proceeding to the next step. The common subjects that you can major in include economics, philosophy, and English.
The only group of students who are exempted from this is students who want to pursue property law. These students are required to have a degree in computer science, math or biology, and other sciences. This is because property lawyers are required to take patent bar examinations.
Complete the Law School Admission Test
Aspiring lawyers are required to sit for a Law School Admission Test, commonly referred to as LSAT, before becoming a lawyer in the United States. LSAT comprises a series of test that tests your reading and reasoning skills. These tests may take about 12 hours to complete. They assess your knowledge on how to manage legal work, including argumentation and information management.
Excelling in LSAT exams does not insinuate that an individual will also perform well in law school. However, it is recommended that you prepare well for these tests. Most institutions use the scores obtained during admission, especially if you don’t have a GPA. The scores are also used by law schools when they are giving out financial aid.
LSAT exams are usually conducted in June, October, and December. Those who pass these tests are admitted to law school the following semester. Most people prefer taking them in June so that you can have enough time to retake them when you fail.
Obtain a Law Degree
Aspiring lawyers are required to obtain a law degree from an accredited school before they can sit for bar exams. Most states require that you complete other additional requirements if you obtained your degree from an unaccredited law institution.
Law institutions have their criteria for graduation and admission. This criterion is competitive, and only students with a good GPA get the letter of admission. You are also required to submit your LSAT results. The law degree takes three years to complete for full-time students.
Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE)
Individuals aspiring to practice law are required to pass the MPRE exams. The exams take two hours to complete, and there are 60 questions. The exam is also a requirement for anyone who wants to sit for the bar exams. MPRE is mandatory in all states except Puerto Rico and Maryland.
Take Bar Examinations
Anyone who wants to become a lawyer in the United States is required to pass the bar exam. The exam consists of an essay and multiple-choice questions that assess your ability to assess and interpret legal issues. The bar exam takes two days to complete, and most states require that you score at least. 40 percent
Most states, such as Tennessee, require that you take continuing legal education (CLE) programs annually. CLE refers to a professional education program that lawyers take once they are admitted to the bar. They help lawyers to hone their skills.
Each state has its CLE requirement. For instance, you are required to take 15 credit hours annually if you wish to practice law in Tennessee. The Tennessee cle also exempt newly admitted lawyers during their first year.
Any aspiring lawyer should be persistent and resilient since the process takes longer than other careers. Ensure that you check your states’ requirements before you start your studies. However, the career is lucrative and worth the effort.