The road to becoming a licensed attorney is long and challenging regardless of which path you take. Traditionally, in order to become a lawyer, a person must graduate from college with a four-your degree and from an ABA-accredited law school, and pass the bar exam in the jurisdiction in which he wishes to practice. For most people, this process takes between seven and 10 years to complete. There are some people who believe that they can take a "fast track" to becoming a lawyer by following an alternative track to the bar. In a few states, you are not required to attend traditional law school in order to sit for the bar exam. However, most of these programs require four or more years of "apprenticeship" with a licensed attorney or judge on top of a college degree, plus the time that it will take you to learn the information that you will need to know for the bar exam. In all, the "fast track" alternative method will take at least 10 years, and that's if you pass the bar exam on your first attempt. Therefore, the fastest way to becoming a lawyer is the traditional law school, but with a twist.
Attend a college that offers a "3/3 program." These programs allow you to start law school during your last year of college. Most law schools that are part of a larger university system will offer these programs to their students. A candidate will need to have exceptional credentials in the form of undergraduate grades and a Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT) score. Inquire at your school's admissions office to find the specific criteria for your school's "3/3" program.
Take summer courses during law school in order to complete required courses sooner. Some law schools will allow students to graduate once they have completed all required coursework for their degree. Unfortunately, the majority of ABA law schools mandate that you must be enrolled at least part-time for 3 years in order to earn a Juris Doctor degree. However, even if you must stick around for the full three years, taking summer classes will allow you to take a much lighter course load--you may be able to get away with taking only one course each semester of your third year.
Use your extra time to get a head start on studying for the bar exam. The more time that you can dedicate to bar study, the greater your chances of passing on your first attempt. Most students end up taking a full course load during their third year, in which case, they will need to wait until May or June to start studying for the July bar exam. If you can start studying in January, you will dramatically decrease the odds that you will fail the exam and be forced to waste an additional six months to a year studying and retaking the bar exam. Once you have passed the bar in your jurisdiction, you will be eligible to be sworn in as a licensed attorney. By following this variation on the traditional path to becoming an attorneys, it is conceivable that you could become an attorney in five to six years as opposed to seven to 12 years.
- Photo Credit Female university student smiling and carrying some notebooks image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com
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