Law Degree Requirements
It takes usually seven years of study to become a lawyer.
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A person who wishes to practice law in any state in the U.S. must obtain a law degree by completing three years of legal study. In addition to obtaining a law degree, a person must pass a bar exam and a legal ethics exam to become a practicing lawyer. The courses law schools require you take to obtain the degree prepare you for the practice of law and the successful completion of these exams.
You must have a four-year degree from a college or university to gain acceptance into law school. Law schools do not require any specific undergraduate course of study for applicants. However, you can improve your performance in law school by entering with good writing and analytical skills.
As a first-year law student, you must take certain required courses. These courses will provide you with a foundation on which the remainder of your legal studies will build. These courses include torts, property, civil procedure, criminal law, and legal research and writing. Theses classes will familiarize you with subjects on the multistate bar exam, which features 200 multiple choice questions in the subjects of torts, property, contracts, criminal law, constitutional law and evidence.
Constitutional Law and Legal Writing
In your second and third years of law school, you can choose most of your own courses. Not all required courses will fit into the first-year curriculum, so most law schools give you to option of taking constitutional law in your second or third year. Law schools require that you take at least one more legal research and writing course in which you will learn advanced techniques in legal writing. Although you will not be tested on the subject of legal research and writing on the bar exam, your state’s bar exam will include several essay questions. You will use the techniques you learned in your legal research and writing courses, like the IRAC method, to answer these questions. IRAC stands for issue, rule, analysis and conclusion, which must all be present in your legal writing.
Legal Ethics and Other Requirements
You must also take a legal ethics course in your second or third year of law school. In this course, you learn how to react to situations you may encounter as a lawyer. Not only will your final exam test your knowledge of legal ethics, but the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam will also test your knowledge. Any person who wants to practice law must make a passing score on the MPRE. You must also take a professional skills course, where you will learn skills that you can use in the legal profession. Aside from these classes, you may choose from a large selection of electives. If you want to ensure a smooth transition from obtaining your law degree to taking your bar exam two months later, consider taking electives that will be on your state’s bar exam. Law schools require that courses add up to a minimum of 80 to 90 credit hours.
About the Author
August Jackson is a contributor to various websites. She has taken courses in copywriting and has worked in corporate America as a proofreader. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in bankruptcy law.