Steps to Becoming a Lawyer in Arizona

According to the 2021 State Bar of Arizona Annual Report, there were 18,656 active attorneys in the state, and a total of 25,348 total members of the bar. Practitioners in Maricopa County earned an average of about $112,500, while down in Pima County, the average earnings were about $90,000. If you’re interested in becoming an attorney in Arizona, but you have no legal training in the legal profession, you’ll need to be able to fulfill the following requirements.

Undergraduate Studies

The Arizona Supreme Court governs the admission of lawyers to practice in the various state’s courts. A four-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions and Programs is required to gain admission into law school. For purposes of gaining admission into law school, admissions committees aren’t terribly concerned about what an applicant’s undergraduate major was. One of the reasons for that is because there’s no such thing as a pre-law undergraduate degree. A person can study anything from accounting to architecture or chemistry to computer science. What law school admission committees focus on are a candidate’s grade point average, his or her analytical abilities and communication skills, both oral and written.

The Law School Admissions Test

Another hurdle to law school admission is the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) which is administered by the Law School Admissions Council four times per year. Every candidate for admission to any law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association is required to have taken this test. Law school candidates need to be reminded that in the context of this test, they’re competing on a national level against some of the brightest future lawyers in the country. Although preparation for the test isn’t required, programs are available for purposes of learning how to take the test. We encourage every law school candidate to get ready for the LSAT by taking an appropriate preparation class. There are three different skills tested. Those involve the following:

  • Reading comprehension.
  • Analytical reasoning.
  • Logical thinking.

The current cost for taking the LSAT is $216, and it can be paid online. Scores on the test will range from a low of 120 to a high of 180. Test takers should expect to receive their scores by email about three weeks after the taking the LSAT. If a person isn’t pleased with their performance, they can arrange to take the test again upon registering again and making the payment.

Arizona’s Accredited Law School Requirement

For purposes of becoming an Arizona attorney, applicants are required to have graduated from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association. There are more than 200 of them. Candidates for admission need not limit themselves geographically unless they want to. There are three ABA accredited law schools in Arizona. Those are:

  • The University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson.
  • Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor in Tempe.
  • Phoenix School of Law in Phoenix

The Law School Application Process

As soon as law school admission candidates have received their LSAT scores, they can begin the law school application process. All candidates for admission to ABA accredited law schools are required to apply through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service. The cost of the LSAC is $195, and that can be paid online. This service gathers all necessary transcripts, letters of recommendation, online evaluations and other materials for purposes of being assembled into a standard package and forwarded to the law schools that candidates have applied to.

Attending Law School

When you’ve hooked up with a law school that you want to attend, you’ll be immersed in the legal studies for at least three years. As the old saying goes, in the first year, you learn to do the work, and in the second year, they work you to death. The third year, you can’t wait to get out. Law school students don’t have a major. On top of the accredited law school course of study, candidates for admission must also successfully complete a specific course on Arizona law. ABA accredited law schools require satisfactory completion of numerous courses. Aside from those, many courses are available in many areas of interest, especially at larger law schools. A law student with a special area of interest can take elective courses that focus on specialized areas of law.

The Bar Exam

Technically, a candidate for admission to the Arizona bar need not be a law school grad. Any person who  is 21 or older and in their final year of law school who is expecting to graduate within 120 days can sit for the exam. The requirements for this early exam are strict though, and most third year law students aren’t going to fit into the requirements of this exception. Otherwise, candidates will need to wait until after graduation with everyone else before taking the bar exam. Like preparing for the LSAT, preparation for the Arizona bar exam is also of great importance. The exam is administered twice a year in February and July. Each such exam is taken over two consecutive days. Here’s what they consist of:

  • Day One: Six 30-minute Multistate Essay Exam questions in the morning, and two Multistate Essay Exam questions in the afternoon.
  • Day Two: 200 Multistate multiple-choice questions with 100 in the morning session and another 100 in the afternoon session.

Preparing for the Arizona Bar Exam

There are several privately owned companies that offer Arizona bar exam preparation and review. Without specifically recommending any such service, law grads will learn soon enough what preparation and review service the overwhelming majority of test takes will be using.

Applying to Take the Arizona Bar Exam

Law school grads who intend on taking the bar exam in Arizona must apply online through the Arizona Judicial Branch. The $880 cost can be paid online too. That includes a $380 character and fitness investigation charge. Applications for admission are taken online, and all documents in support of applications must be received within five days of submitting the application. Somewhere around 60% of all Arizona bar exam takers pass it on their first attempt.

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam

Within three years of passing the Arizona bar exam, passers are also required to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility exam. Passing scores start at 85. The test is given four times a year in Phoenix and Tucson.

Arizona bar exam passers are typically sworn in within a month of when results are released. Upon completion of the ceremony, an appropriate motion is made and granted. All of those who were sworn in are now attorneys who will be able to practice anywhere in the court system of the State of Arizona.