Steps to Become a Lawyer in Virginia

The lawyers working in Virginia average about $140,000 per year.  It gets better too. Those who work in the Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA areas earn about $180,000 per year. The population of the state is about 6.65 million people, and it continues to work with the reckoning of is history. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the law school is the second oldest in the country, and continues to be ranked in the top 10 in the nation. There are seven other accredited law schools in Virginia too. If you want to become a lawyer in Virginia, the following steps will lay it out for you.

Get that Bachelor’s Degree First

The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners requires you to have a bachelor’s degree before you can begin law school. It doesn’t state what your degree should be in though as there is no such thing as a prelaw degree. You can literally be admitted to law school with a degree in dance, design or drama. It doesn’t really matter so long as you have a passion for whatever you study. It can be literature, administration justice, engineering, business or sociology, so long as you have a passion for it. That’s because if you have that passion, your grades will be higher, and we all know how admission committees look at grade point average. Just make sure that your undergraduate degree comes from a school that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.  If it’s so accredited, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Taking the LSAT

Getting a bachelor’s degree is indeed an achievement. Now, the next step in becoming a lawyer in Virginia is successfully taking the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. It’s a half day standardized test that’s is taken by virtually anybody who wants to go to law school at an American Bar Association (ABA) law school. As you’re competing against prospective law students from across the country, a prep class for the LSAT is in order. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Find out which commercial test prep course is the best, and take it. You won’t regret it, and your scores should go up by at least 10 points. The test has nothing to do with that law, but It does predict your ability to go through law school successfully. Just some of the things that the test draws on are your abilities to form arguments, draw conclusions, resolve arguments, analyze reading passages and identify the structures and flaws in arguments.

The Application Process

You need to go online at the LSAT website to register for the exam. Pay the $215 fee by credit or debit card and advise of where you’d like to take the exam. About three weeks after taking the test, you’ll get your results. Scores on the test can rage from the bottom of 120 to the top of 180. A score of 157 will get you in somewhere in Virginia. A score of 171 with a grade point of 3.75 might get you into the University of Virginia. The following are accredited law schools in Virginia:

  • Appalachian School of Law
  • George Mason School of Law
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • College of William and Mary
  • Washington and Lee University
  • University of Richmond
  • Regent University
  • Liberty University

Applying to Law School

Now that you’ve successfully tackled the LSAT, it’s time to apply to law school. They’re going to require you to use the Credential Assembly Service. This service organizes and compiles all necessary documents for law school admission like transcripts, letters of recommendation, evaluations, writing samples and LSATs. It’s mandatory, and it costs $215 plus $45 for every school that you apply to. Everything is sent out electronically. The Credential Assembly Service is certainly convenience.

Classes and Internships

The ABA and the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners are in concurrence. In order to practice law in Virginia, a candidate must have a solid foundation. They agree that classwork should include constitutional law, federal procedure, criminal law and procedure, contracts, torts, property, Uniform Commercial Code and legal professional responsibility. They also require a law student to perform an internship at an off-site setting, matching their legal skills with practical knowledge. They need to take internships seriously too, because they’re going to be graded.

Taking the Bar Exam in Virginia

The next step in becoming an attorney in Virginia is to take the bar exam. Before doing that though, you’ll need to take another prep class. Talk with your classmates, and see which one is best. Take it too, and spend every minute you have cramming three years of law school studies into it. Answer all of the questions too. It’s well worth what you’re paying to take it, and it could be the difference between passing and failing. It’s a two-day test. Part One of the exam touches on virtually every course that you took in law school. That’s another reason for the prep class. It’s an essay exam that’s given by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. Part Two of the exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions. There are 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. On top of that is the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. You have two years from the date of your bar exam to pass that with a score of 85 or better. Of course, you’re to demonstrate quality character and fitness to hold the position of an attorney. You must also take a course on professionalism within two years of passing the bar. The class pivots on handling client funds, fee agreements and maintaining independence and loyalty while avoiding conflicts of interest.

In 2022, the pass rate on the Virginia bar was 66%. Fees were $475 plus an additional $475 for the character and fitness investigation. Confirm the fees and be certain to comply with each and every part of your requirements. Then comes the last step in the process. That’s raising your right hand and taking the oath of offices. Congratulations. You’re now an attorney. You’re licensed to practice in all state courts in Virginia. It’s been a long and hard road, but you did it.