Training For Law School.

The Big Picture.

The most important training for law school is to learn what exactly is required to become an attorney.   The overall process can be boiled down as follows: 

1) You need to graduate from college. 

2) You need to submit an application to law schools (usually a law school personal statement and two teacher recommendations are required to be submitted with the application). 

3) You need a law school to accept you as a student (this usually requires taking the LSAT and high grades). 

4) You need to graduate from law school. 

5) You need to sit for a bar exam in the state where you want to practice law (this requires a separate application process and in most states REQUIRES THAT YOU GRADUATED FROM AN ABA APPROVED LAW SCHOOL). 

6) You need to be accepted into a state bar (this usually requires passing the bar exam in the state you applied to and passing the character and fitness test, and possibly a brief interview). 

7) You need to attend the Bar’s swearing in ceremony.  (Only at this point are you licensed to practice law.)

 So let’s look at more specific training for law school…


Gaining knowledge in College.

Training for law school begins in college.  Although there are no definite requirements for the type of college major you must have to become a lawyer, you must generally have done well in college (i.e. have a good GPA) in order to be admitted to law school. If you take college courses that are intellectually demanding and make good grades, are able to use a computer, and have been active in extracurricular activities, you stand a good chance of getting into law school. There are a number of areas that you should focus on training for law school prior to applying to law school, these areas are:

  • Writing – If you take college courses that allows you to learn the basis of writing, such as proper grammar and punctuation, this will help you in law school. In law school, you will be required to take a year-long class in legal writing and will be required to learn to draft legal documents such as court briefs and legal memoranda. Also, most law school examinations are written essays tests, so a strong foundation in writing will help you if you want to become a lawyer.
  • Logic and Critical Reasoning – If you take college classes in logic in college, you will learn skills that you can later use in law school when you learn legal analysis. All law students are required to learn how to take a fact situation and analyze the situation based on legal principles. Prior training in formulating different types of arguments will help you later in law school, especially if you want to become a lawyer who works in the courtroom.
  • Legal History – In order to do well in law school, you should understand the background and structure of our legal system. Prior training in how American law developed will give you a foundation for understanding both old English Common law and American constitutional law.
  • Public Speaking – In most of your law school classes, you will be called on by professors to answer questions about the cases you have read in your textbook. This is called the “Socratic Method” of teaching law. This requires that you be able to speak comfortably in front of other students. Any college courses that you take in public speaking will allow you to have more confidence and ability in talking and making arguments in front of other people in law school. College courses in debate are also helpful in teaching you to think quickly on your feet and talk in front of others.
  • Accounting and Business – If you take college classes in accounting and business, this will help you later in law school if you want to take classes in corporate law and commercial transactions. College courses in accounting and business will allow you to become familiar early on with basic financial and business management concepts.
  • Speed Reading and Comprehension – Most law school classes have a very heavy reading load. If you take classes in college in speed reading, you will be better prepared to read, comprehend, and recall large amount of technical, legal material.

 Note that these kinds of classes and skills will help you once in law school.


The LSAT.

As previously mentioned most law schools require that you take the LSAT.  Scoring highly on the LSAT is important in relation to the caliber of law school that you will attend.   An integral part of training for law school is doing well on this test.  That is why it is recommended that you take a preparatory class and conduct further individualized study to prepare for the LSAT.


Training in Law School: Gaining Legal Knowledge.

Having taken the LSAT and gained admittance into law school, your training for law school does not end.   In your first year of law school, you will be required to take courses in contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, civil procedure, torts, and legal writing. These courses will require you to read many legal cases and learn about how basic legal principles are applied. You will need to not only study your text books but also purchase summary outlines to assist you in your studies and training. 

In your second and third years of law school, you will be allowed to take elective courses to gain a foundation in a field where you might want to practice law. Some popular elective courses in law school are: entertainment and sports law, tax law, international law and human rights, and environmental law.

The training continues when after your first year of law school, you will start gaining practical experience by working at a law firm or government agency. This type of work will allow you to understand how cases, codes, regulations, and legislation are applied by lawyers in the workplace.


Training after Law School: Getting a Law License.

Granted, after law school ends you are not training for law school anymore…  you are now training for being a lawyer.  If you want to become a lawyer, you will have to become licensed to practice law. This is usually done by a person becoming admitted to the bar in the state where they live. All states generally require that lawyers take and pass the bar examination in their state. The bar examination is administered as a written examination in most states.

If a lawyer passes the bar in one state and is admitted to practice law there, he may be able to get admitted to practice law in another state without taking the bar examination again. The lawyer will typically have to meet the other state’s requirements for good moral character and prior legal experience.  (This is called reciprocity and each state has different rules regarding allowing out of state attorneys to waive into their bars… be advised that some states have very strict rules, and other states DO NOT allow any outside attorneys to waive into their bars.)

In order to be qualified to take the bar examination in a state, a person must complete a three year period of study at a law school approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Approval by the ABA means that a law school has met certain rigorous standards for legal education. The bar examination in most states is taken over a period of 2 to 3 days and is usually a six-hour per day examination which tests applicants on state law. Many states also require applicants to pass the Multistate Bar Examination or MBE. The MBE contains approximately 200 multiple- choice questions on various legal subjects.

Further, many states require that a person take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) in order to get a license to practice law. This examination tests applicants on the rules of professional conduct created by the ABA. In some states, students can take the MPRE during law school. This is usually done after the student has taken a course on professional responsibility and legal ethics in law school.

Most students who complete law school receive a J.D. degree or a “juris doctor” degree. This degree is a bachelor of law degree. Some students who plan to go into careers teaching law, or just want to further specialize may get a master of law degree (LL.M.). The LL.M. degree is usually awarded after one year of additional law study. This degree is obtained by students who plan to become specialists in a field such as intellectual property law, tax law or international law.


Conclusion.

In conclusion training for law school begins first with understanding what you are getting into, and what is required to actually become an attorney.  At each point in a law student’s career you are training to take yourself to the next level.  It is difficult training, but can also be very challenging and rewarding if the practice of law is the right fit for your personality.





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