Steps to Becoming a Lawyer in Connecticut

There are currently more than 21,000 lawyers who are licensed to practice law in the State of Connecticut. Earnings for those professionals are on the higher end of the national scale with a mean annual scale of more than $150,000. In some areas of the state, that figure exceeds $180,000 per year. Aspiring lawyers are required to comply with a series of requirements in order to practice law in any state. In Connecticut, the requirements include successfully graduating from an accredited college or university with a four-year undergraduate degree and a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). If your goal is to become a licensed attorney in the State of Connecticut, here’s how to go about satisfying the requirements.

Complete a Four-Year Undergraduate Program

Connecticut first requires a law school admission candidate to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Whether such an institution is accredited can be confirmed through the Database of Accredited Post-Secondary Institutions and Programs. There are no requirements as to what a pre-law degree might be, so for undergraduate students, just about any area of study that they enjoy will satisfy the requirement of a four-year degree. There is strong evidence pointing to a student’s grade point average being higher if he or she enjoys the course of study being pursued. Grade point average along with analytical and reasoning skills are qualities that law schools seek with every student who is being considered for admission.

The Law School Admission Test

A satisfactory score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is required by every ABA accredited law school in the United States. Scores can range from a low of 120 to a perfect 180. A law school candidate’s LSAT score is a critical consideration for an admission decision. The test has little or nothing to do with the actual practice of law. It’s administered by the Law School Admission Council, and it evaluates a candidate’s abilities in reading comprehension, critical analysis and logical reasoning. The test is given four times per year across Connecticut, and the current cost to take it is $190.

LSAT Preparation

Regardless of the fact that Connecticut is a small state, law school admission candidates are competing on a national basis for a seat at an ABA accredited law school. Like others who will be taking the LSAT, they’ll serve themselves well by taking a class that will prepare them for how to take the test. Completing that class gives prospective law students the best chance of a high LSAT score and admission to the law school that they want to attend. Aside from Yale University with a 176 LSAT average, the average scores at the other two Connecticut law schools at Quinnipiac University and the University of Connecticut are from the low to middle 150 range. Test scores are sent out about three weeks after each exam.

Applying to Law School

The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee administers over bar examination requirements in the state. In order to sit for the Connecticut Bar Exam, graduation from an ABA accredited law school anywhere in the United States is required. Law school admission candidates who intend on taking the Connecticut bar exam shouldn’t limit themselves geographically. There are more than 200 ABA Accredited Law Schools in the United States. The ABA Credential Assembly Service must be used to apply to them. This service operates for the benefit of both law school admission committees and applicants for admission. All law school applications and supporting documentation are forwarded to the service. It then sends a report to the law schools that an applicant has applied to. The cost of this service is $215 with a $45 charge for each law school that you apply to. Note that the Bar Examining Committee will consider applications from graduates of the Massachusetts School of Law which is not currently accredited by the ABA.

The Connecticut Bar Exam

Upon graduating from a law school that is recognized by the Connecticut Bar Examining Committee, prospective lawyers become eligible to sit for the Connecticut bar exam. Like the LSAT, it’s also recommended that a preparation class be taken for the bar exam. By the time that you’re in your final semester of law school, you’ll know what preparation course has the highest rate of success. Like the majority of states, Connecticut gives the Uniform Bar Exam. For early applications the cost is $800. Applications after the cutoff date are $900. The exam can be taken in February or July. It consists of the following over two days:

  • Day One: in the first half of the morning session, there will be two 90-minute Multistate Performance Test essay questions. In the afternoon session, there will be six more essay questions.
  • Day Two: The Multistate Bar Exam is administered. There will be 100 multiple choice questions in the morning, and another 100 will be given in the afternoon.

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam

Aside from competency, candidates for admission to the Connecticut bar are also required to demonstrate familiarity with professional ethical standards. This requirement can be satisfied in one of two following ways:

  • Passing the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam with a score of 80 or above.
  • By obtaining a grade of “C” or better in a course on professional responsibility. Note that continuing legal education classes are not permitted in satisfying this requirement.

Character and Fitness

After an applicant for admission to the Connecticut bar passes the bar exam, a character and fitness review will be performed. This review includes a credit check.

Attendance at a swearing in ceremony will be required. Upon receiving full licensure, the new attorney will be admitted to practice law in all Connecticut trial and appellate courts.