In order to prepare for law school and become a lawyer you must have a plan. Moreover, you cannot coordinate a proper plan unless you educate yourself.
In the United States law school typically requires a three year commitment. Law schools do not require that your undergraduate major be Pre Law; in fact it doesn’t matter what your undergraduate major was, law schools accept candidates from many different educational backgrounds.
Here at Become-a-Lawyer.com we advocate taking at least one pre law class to prepare for law school with the goal of obtaining a feel for the academic work you will complete in law school to obtain your juris doctorate degree.
The traditional law school “full time” program is similar to college (as scheduling goes), students go to class during the day and are not required (but can if they wish) take summer classes. There are other non-traditional programs offered by some law schools such as part time (or night law school), which typically takes four (4) years to complete. Some schools offer accelerated programs, and online programs (though there are strict guidelines set by the bar of each state as to the maximum number of hours that can be credited to online courses, so be wary of online programs).
The overall goal of law school is simple… prepare you to pass the bar exam. the secondary goal is to assist you to find employment. Granted, other goals of law school include preparing you to produce quality work product, think like a lawyer, analysis, thinking on your feet, etc. which are all important. However, from the global perspective the main goal of law school concerns preparing you to pass the bar so that you can be licensed to work in a legal career. Remember, the name of the school on your JD degree is not the primary concern and no guarantee of success.
To prepare for law school you should review the state bar requirements of the location where you want to practice. Before attending any law school you have to conduct advanced planning in terms of what geographic area of the country you want to practice law. The importance of geography will be discussed in more detail below, but for now just realize that every state in the United States of America requires that a lawyer be licensed in that state before being allowed to practice law in that state.
Each state has its own “bar” which is the state’s agency responsible for setting standards and criteria for licensing lawyers. Therefore, standards may vary from state to state. For example, the California State Bar will allow you to sit for that state’s bar exam and become licensed if you graduated from a non-accredited law school… whereas the New Jersey State Bar would not allow you to sit for their bar exam or become licensed.
Consequently, you have to do some long term planning to prepare for law school and consider what geographic area of the country where you want to practice. Consider this and then go to those state bar websites and make sure that a juris doctorate degree from the schools you are considering will be honored by that state bar.
Usually, if the school is an ABA accredited school all state bars will accept a juris doctorate degree from that school and allow you to sit for their bar exam (the beginning of the licensing process, which we will get into greater detail in another article).
Further, law schools gear their curriculum toward the state (and bar exam) where they reside, and the school’s alumni power base (and ability to assist you in finding employment) is strongest in its own geographic location. So if you plan on living in Montana, it may not be advantageous to attend a Florida law school. The only exception to this is if you are accepted into a top law school. If you are accepted into a top 20 law school and you can afford it, you should enroll.
A final important consideration to prepare for law school is the Cost of the law school you are considering and obtaining the juris doctorate degree. If you require a large amount of debt to attend a certain law school, (and the law school you are considering is not T-20) it may be wiser to attend a lower ranked law school that is cheaper. After all, after your first job, the quality of your experience will trump where you went to law school (even a T-20 law school) in an interviewer’s eyes.
Most importantly, remember that preparing for law school is the most minor element in your overall career plan. You cannot discover whether you should or should not go to law school until you also educate yourself regarding what a lawyer does, and what types of law careers are available to you! These elements are much more important vs. simply preparing for law school.
But don't worry, we will help you. Review the below links to learn more about how to prepare for law school!
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