U.S. Capital

A Guide to Becoming a Lawyer in the US

May 26, 2011

Steps to becoming a lawyer

1. Four year degree course
Everyone first has to complete a four year degree course before going to law school. There is no specific degree required, but if you are planning to specialise in a particular area of law, it would be wise to study a related subject. For example, tax lawyers will need to be familiar with accounting practices.

2. Law school
The standard time taken to complete law school is three years but it may take longer to graduate if studying part-time or at night school. The first year of law school covers core subjects like property law, torts, civil procedure, contracts and constitutional law. Thereafter specialist subjects can be chosen in the tax, corporate or labour fields.

3. Bar exam
The final stage in the process is passing the bar exam which differs from state to state as the exam covers state-specific laws and legal codes.

One of the most important areas of the process to become a lawyer is the bar review. This is a refresher course that is taken before the bar exam covering the topics that will be presented in the Multi-State Bar Review and if applicable, the relevant state-specific topics.

Get relevant experience

It is important to get as much experience as you can before you qualify if you want to increase your chances of getting a good job in such a competitive field. There are various ways to do this including:

• Submitting articles to academic law reviews and the law school law journals.
• Getting practical experience by taking part in legal clinics, moot court competitions, practice trials.
• Clinical programs offered by some law schools.
• Internships with firms you would like to work with.

Don´t leave it until the final stage of your studies to decide on a particular field or to start interviewing for jobs. The process should begin the first year of law school so that by the time you leave you are already clear on which field you want to specialize in and who you would like to work for.

This article was written by Marc Adam, a student studying the bar review at Rigos.