Taking into account a 20% increase in lawyers in the last 10 years, there are about 180,000 lawyers in New York. Of course, this number includes lawyers from other states that have offices in New York. If you want to work, there is something for everybody. Some have never seen a courtroom in their careers, while with others, their lives are consumed with court. This diversity in practice makes lawyers in New York so of the most highly paid transactional and litigation attorneys in the country. Even a first-year lawyer out of Albany is near the $100,000 barrier. From there, it just keeps going up. No matter what kind of law you want to practice, there’s going to be plenty of work. If you want to join the ranks of these lawyers in New York, here are the steps that you must take.
Get That Bachelor’s Degree First
When it comes to the requirements of the American Bar Association, liberal rules are set as to the type o of degree that you must have earned, so long as you’ve graduated from an a law school that’s accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. There are plenty of schools for undergraduate studies that are so accredited. As long as you graduate from a school that’s accredited, the odds of getting into a law school increase greatly, especially is you major in an area of the law that you enjoy. If you enjoy your major, your grades will likely be better in it. We all know about how admission committees feel about a high grade point average. Sure, take classes in political science, literature, history, and have a good understanding of how humans behave. Get your undergraduate degree in any field though. There is no such thing as a pre-law degree.
Take the LSAT
The New York State Board of Law Examiners and the ABA both require you to take what’s known as the Law School Admission Test. This test is taken either immediately before you graduation or afterwards. It’s a standardized half-day test that’s given quarterly throughout the state. There are commercial businesses that prepare students to take this test. You’re urged to take such a test. Since the LSAT has little to do with the law, the classes teach you how to take the test. You’ll find your scores being significantly higher on the test if you take such a class. We all know what a high score plus a high grade point average does to admission committees, so do the best that you can possibly do on the test. The LSAT gauges skills that are necessary for success in law school. Here’s what the test covers:
- Reading Comprehension: Complicated passages are used here. You must show your understanding of the materials that you read.
- Analytical Reasoning: You’ll be reading complicated analyses, and your ability to solve legal predicaments is measured.
- Logical Reasoning: It’s more reading, but this time you’ll draw on your own conclusions, reasoning, analogies, and draw on the strengths and weaknesses of arguments in them.
- Mystery Questions: You won’t be graded on these, but you won’t know which ones you won’t be graded on. They’ll be from one of the above categories. You must still try to do your best.
- Writing Sample: You’ll have a half an hour in which to give a writing sample on a specific topic. This isn’t graded either, but it’s sent out to the various law schools that you apply to.
You apply to take the LSAT online at the Law School Admissions Council. The cost is $215, and its payable online.
Receiving Your LSAT Score
You’ll receive your LSAT score about three weeks after the exam. The lowest possible score that you might receive is a 120. The highest is a 180. If you feel that you didn’t do well on the exam, you can cancel it up to five days after the test. If you’re going to do that, do so online during business hours.
The Credential Assembly Service
You’ve taken a big step toward becoming a lawyer in New York but successfully taking the LSAT. Now, your ready to apply to law schools. In the State of New York there are 15 accredited law schools. You must first use the Credential Assembly Service. It’s mandatory. The service will help you obtain your transcripts, letters of recommendation and LSAT scores and package them to the various law schools that you’ll apply to. It’s also going to follow any special instructions from various law schools that you apply to. It charges $195 for this service, and it can be paid online.
The bar in New York has set the following course requirements to graduate from an accredited program.
- 30 credit hours are for clinical placements. You’ll be graded on this.
- 12 hours are allowed for other course work.
- 12 hours are allowed for distance education.
- One-third of your credits can come from international study.
- 64 credit hours must be taken in the classroom.
- 2 hours must be in professional responsibility.
Taking the New York State Bar Exam
When you’ve earned your Juris Doctor degree, there’s going to be some time between that time and the bar exam. We strongly encourage you to take another preparatory class, but this time, its on taking the bar exam. There will be others just like you, so don’t be afraid to ask which one has the highest pass rate. Enroll in it and study it every hour that you can. There’s no such thing as overkill when it comes to the bar exam. New York gives the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE). It consists of the following:
- The MBE: 200 multiple choice questions with 100 in the morning and another 100 in the afternoon.
- The MEE: 6 30-minute essay questions.
- The MPT: Two 90-minute tests that measure your legal skills.
There is also the New York Law Exam. All applicants must pass this. It’s administered on a separate date. Those dates can be obtained through the New York State Board of Law Examiners (NYSBLE).
Applying to Take the Exam
You’ll file your application and accompanying documentation with the NYLBLE. File on April 1, for the July exam and October 1, for the February exam. The application fee to take the test is $250. It must be paid by credit card or by certified check or money order payable to the NYS Board of Law Examiners can be mailed in the alternative. About two weeks before the examination, you’ll receive your seating ticket and confirmation. The most recent pass rates for New York were 73% in July of 2021. This exam is known to be significantly more difficult than some of the other states.
You must apply for admission to the New York State Bar within there years of passing the exam. You’ll be sworn in and licensed to practice law in all New York state courts. Now you’ve taken all of the steps to become a lawyer. Congratulations are in order for a job well-done.