Steps to Becoming a Lawyer in North Carolina

The bar association in North Carolina was founded by the North Carolina State Bar Association. Its purpose was to regulate the profession in the state, and now, it has more than 20,000 members. You must be a member of the North Carolina State Bar Association in order to get a proper education, experience and pass the bar exam. Maybe this is what you want to do with your life. It’s a wise choice, so read on, because this is what you have to do.

Get Your Bachelor’s Degree First

The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners requires you to first obtain your bachelor’s degree before you can begin working on your law degree. That requires four years of work. The college or university must be accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. It doesn’t really matter where you attend undergraduate school, as long as you’re so accredited. Since there is no such thing as a pre-law major, there are no requirements on what you must take. Subjects that might help though include literature, social studies, political science, criminal justice and communications. So long as your major course of study is enjoyable is what counts. That’s because if your major is enjoyable, your grade point average will be higher. We all know how grade point averages figure into admissions committee decisions on law school. You might study anything from astronomy to zoology. Just make sure you enjoy it.

The Next Step is to Take the LSAT

After getting your undergraduate education out of the way, the next step is becoming a lawyer is to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). It’s a standardized test that’s about 3.5 hours long. It’s required for admission to any American Bar Association (LSAT) accredited law school. The test really has little to do with the law, but it is a good predictor of how well you’ll fare in law school. As you’re being tested on a national basis, you’ll want to do as well as you can do on the test. That’s why you’ll want to take a prep class for the test. There are plenty of them around. Just ask a few law students about one and take it. You’ll see a marked difference in your scores. Your LSAT score might be weight more heavily than your grade point. Here’s what’s on it:

  • Logical Reasoning: This consists of about 50 questions in two 35-minute sections. Your ability to read and test arguments is measured.
  • Analytical Reasoning: Perhaps 25 questions in a 35-minute stretch. They’re multiple-choice questions testing your ability to make inferences based on given conditions and restrictions.
  • Reading Comprehension: Maybe 25 questions in a 35-minute segment. Your propensity to read and understand lengthy segments of material is tested. Look for 25 questions in 35 minutes.
  • Essay Questions: There will be two questions lasting 35 minutes asking for pro or con answers. One of them will be experimental. You won’t know which one, so do as well as possible on the test.
  • Experimental Questions: You’ll be asked these, but you won’t be graded on them. You won’t know that though. That’s why you need to do as well as possible on the exam from start to finish.

Registering for the LSAT

The LSAT is given at 12 schools that are scattered across North Carolina. Registering for the test is easy. You’ll create an account with the Law School Admissions Council. The cost is $215, and you can pay the fee there too. Results will be emailed to you about three weeks after the exam. Scores range from a low of 120 to a high of 180. There are six ABA accredited law schools in North Carolina. LSAT scores range from a low of 146 at North Carolina Central University. An average is 158, while Duke University boasts a 168.

The Credential Assembly Service

Now comes one of the biggest steps in the process. That’s applying to the various law schools. You needn’t apply to a North Carolina law school either. There are more than 200 ABA accredited law schools in the United States. Any one of those will allow you to sit for the bar exam in North Carolina. Accredited law schools will require you to use the Credential Assembly Service or CAS upon applying to enroll. The CAS assists you in obtaining copies of all of your transcripts, letters of recommendation, evaluations and LSAT scores. It then sends them to the schools that you wish to apply to at $45 per school. This fee is on top of the $195 fee for the CAS.

Taking the North Carolina Bar Exam

With a Juris Doctorate or graduating within 30 days of the North Carolina be exam, you can sit for the North Carolina bar exam. You’re going to look back on that prep class for the LSAT and realize how much it helped you. Now, you need to take another preparation class for the bar exam. There are commercial classes out there that will prepare you. Just ask other students which prep class they’ll be taking. You’ll quickly learn which class you’ll want to take too. Enroll in it, and if you’re not working, devote your life to that class. Answer the questions at the end of the class too. You’ll likely do fine. Here are just some of the course materials that will be covered in the exam: Contracts, civil practice, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, evidence, real property, secured transactions, torts and wills and trusts.

The State-Specific Component of the Bar Exam

Aside from the Uniform Bar Exam, North Carolina also has the State-Specific Component of the North Carolina Bar Exam. This portion must be passed before being admitted to the bar.  North Carolina also requires you to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam within two-years before the bar exam and one year of taking the bar exam.


The licensing fees for taking the North Carolina bar exam are $850. Check on this before sending your application package in. Take notice that beginning on the spring of 2023, only laptops will be allowed in the exam. You will not be permitted to take the exam in hand-written form without special permission.

You’ll receive your license by UPS by the middle of April if you took the February exam, and the middle of September if you took the July exam. Your Oath of Office will come with it. You’ll need to sign and have your Oath notarized and be sworn in at a ceremony in open court. Then, its congratulations! You’re a lawyer now. You can practice in all state courts in North Carolina.