Whether you’re just graduating from high school and deciding which career path to choose for the first time or have been working in a different profession for years and are ready for a life change, deciding to become a lawyer can be both exciting and daunting. There are many steps to take before you’re permitted to represent another person in a court of law. Figuring out which steps are required and in which order takes some work. Becoming a lawyer requires dedication and commitment through the education and testing process, and it also requires a large financial obligation to pay for the schooling and certifications required by the state.
Many lawyers have decided on this career path because it provides a lot of job satisfaction, as it allows you to use your legal skills to help others and protect those without a voice, such as children, animals, and the environment. Not only is it a meaningful career path, but it also provides financial stability with a large earning potential, and it allows you the flexibility to choose your own law field to specialize in based on which areas of law you’re most interested in. Lawyers can work across multiple fields of law throughout their careers.
Your attorneys in Portland, Oregon, from Warren Allen LLP did the legwork for you, and we’ve listed below the steps to take to start your career journey and become a professional lawyer. If you would like to speak with an attorney in the Portland, Oregon, area, contact Warren Allen LLP for legal advice or representation.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step in becoming a lawyer is earning your bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate school that’s recognized by the US Department of Education. You aren’t required to select a particular major in order to apply to a law school that’s accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), and you can graduate with either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree.
However, there may be certain classes that can be completed during your undergraduate degree that will be helpful when earning your law degree, as they prepare you for those lessons that will be required during your post-graduate law program. Taking classes such as criminal justice and political science, business and economics courses, and classes in communications can all help prepare you for the classes required during law school.
Pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
Once you graduate from an undergraduate program recognized by the US Department of Education, you’re ready to study for your Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The LSAT is a standardized exam that must be completed before applying to any ABA-accredited law school. The exam includes multiple-choice questions that test your logic, reasoning, and reading comprehension. You will also be required to submit a 30-minute writing sample that doesn’t count toward your LSAT score but is used by law school administrators to evaluate your qualifications for entering their law program.
The Law School Admission Council’s website is a great resource for preparing for the LSAT, and you can also sign up to sit for the exam on their website. You must apply to take the LSAT online, and the test is only available to take during certain times of the year, so it’s important to visit the Law School Admission Council’s website to find out when the exam will be offered in your area. You should receive your LSAT score about three weeks after completing the exam.
LSAT scores will range from 120, which is the lowest possible score, to 180, which is the highest possible score. Each law school program will require a certain score to be considered a candidate for their law program, and that score will vary with each school. The average LSAT score is around 150. The exam will be around 100 questions, and you will need to get about 60 questions correct to pass with a 150.
Graduate From Law School
After graduating with an undergraduate degree and completing the LSAT, you’re now ready to apply to an ABA-accredited law school. Three ABA-accredited law schools in the Portland, Oregon, area are Lewis and Clark Law School, University of Oregon Law School, and Willamette University College of Law. In order to sit for the Oregon State Bar Exam, you must have graduated with a Juris Doctor (JD) or Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from an ABA-accredited school.
Most law programs will have students complete internships where they get to put into practice what they learned in the classroom. All ABA-accredited law degree programs offer the same foundational law classes that include civil, criminal, and constitutional law; international law; legal research and writing; contracts, ethics, wills, and trusts; and estate and property law.
Pass the Oregon State Bar Exam
You can sign up to sit for the Oregon State Bar Exam within 120 days of your graduation date from an ABA-accredited law program. The Oregon Bar Exam is given twice a year, in February and July, and is given over two days. You must apply to sit for the Bar exam by November 15 for the one offered in February, or by April 15 for the exam offered in July.
The Oregon State Bar Exam application can be found on the Oregon Bar Association website. The application requires providing six character statements and information on your last five employers. It costs $750 to sit for the bar exam. Oregon Bar Exam results are typically mailed six weeks after completing the test.
Maintaining Your License With the Oregon Bar
Once you pass the bar exam, you’re now an attorney in Oregon. Attorneys in Portland, Oregon, are required to participate in the Bar’s New Lawyer Mentoring Program (NLMP) within the first year of becoming a licensed attorney. To maintain your Oregon legal license, you must complete 45 credit hours of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) courses every three years. Course information can be found on the Oregon State Bar website.