Steps to Becoming a Lawyer in Washington

Aside from where most of the population lives in and around Seattle, Washington is a leading lumber producer. It’s also a leading producer of blueberries, apples, pears and potatoes. Its livestock production consists of fisheries for salmon and halibut. It ranks second, only to California in the production of wines. Washington is also one of the wealthiest states. It’s held high in minimal unemployment and long-life expectancy. Given the low number of Native American lawyers, Washington has also become a proactive state in becoming a lawyer. If you’d like to become a lawyer in Washington yourself, read on.

Get Your Bachelor’s Degree First

The first step in becoming a lawyer in the State of Washington is to get your bachelor’s degree. It must be from a college or university that is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education.  It doesn’t even matter what your degree is in, as there is no such thing as a pre-law degree. Your bachelor’s degree can be in any field from information technology to forestry to genetics. What really matters to a law school admission committee is that you’re challenged. That challenge makes earning your degree more worthwhile. The more that a student has to work to get that degree, the more an admission committee likes it. Couple that with a good grade point average, and the committee might hasve an aspiring law student to work with.

Taking the LSAT

LSAT stands for the Law School Admission Test. That’s your next step to becoming a lawyer, and it’s a big one too. The American Bar Association (ABA) requires every candidate for admission to an accredited law school to take it. You’ll be competing against other prospective law students from across the country on the same day though, so you need to prepare. There are several options, but the cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best option. Your career choice could ride on this decision, so make the right decision and go with a tried-and-true professional service. By using a commercial test prep service, your score on the LSAT can easily be 10 points higher. The exam has nothing to do with the law, but it does test the logic and reasoning that’s necessary for success in law school. The test lasts about three and a half hours. There’s one section for reading comprehension, one for logical reasoning, another for rational thinking, an experimental section and a writing section. The experimental section may or may not be scored. You won’t know. The writing section definitely won’t be scored, but it’s sent to every law school that you apply to. That’s why its best to try and do as well on the exam as possible.

The Application Process and Results

Applying to take the LSAT is simple. You can do so by contacting the Law School Admission Council, paying $215 and telling them where you would like to take the exam. Credit cards or debit cards can be used for this purpose. You can even cancel your LSAT if you give them six days’ notice. A low score is at 120, and at the highest score you can get is at 180. There are three ABA accredited law schools in Washington. Their names and scores follow:

  • University of Washington 163
  • Gonzaga University 154
  • Seattle University 157

The Credential Assembly Service

You must have done well on your LSAT to have come this far. The next step on the road to becoming a lawyer in Washington is the Credential Assembly Service. It’s mandatory, but it simplifies the admission process. It gathers your transcripts, letters of recommendation, evaluations, writing samples and LSAT scores and sends them electronically to the law schools that you apply to. There’s a $315 fee for this service, plus $45 per school. Once you start applying, you’ll realize how valuable this service.

Law School Classes and Internships

There are a number of classes that any law school will require you to take. A non-exhaustive list of them would include business organizations, contracts, civil and criminal law and procedure, constitutional law, real property, torts, trusts and estates and Indian law. ABA rules also require law students to take an internship at an outside facility where they can apply what they’ve learned in law school to real life settings. This internship isn’t a pushover. You’ll be graded on it.

Passing the Bar Exam

After completing the above steps, you still have one more to go. That’s passing the bar exam. You’ll want to prepare for this too with a professional class. You’ll have about six weeks to cram three years of work. Just ask your classmates, and find out which bar preparation class they’re taking. Take the same class, study and breathe it for six weeks. You’ll probably do fine. Washington administers the Uniform Bar Exam. There’s the Multistate Bar Exam that consists of 200 multiple choice questions. There are 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. Then, there is the Multistate Essay Exam. That consists of six 30-minute essay questions on a variety of subjects. Finally, there is the Multistate Performance Test section that assesses your abilities on completing a lawyering task within time constraints, identifying ethical situations or analyzing facts for applicable case materials. Remember about the Washington Law Component of the bar exam too. It’s an ethics exam that you must pass within 40 months of passing the bar exam. The passing score is 80%. You must also complete at least four hours of the Washington Preadmission Program.

Applying to Take the Bar Exam

When it’s time to take the Washington bar exam, you can apply online. All applications are subject to a character and fitness investigation. The State of Washington maintains an online admissions portal for this purpose. Be sure to fully comply with all conditions of admission. It’s going to take about 10 weeks before you get your results. In July of 2021, the pass rate was 80.3%

Now that you’ve passed the State of Washington bar exam, a big congratulations is in order. You’ve worked hard. You can now practice law in any county in the State of Washington without restriction.