Corporations are increasingly turning to in house lawyers to replace out of house lawyers. The advantage of this is simple. It saves them money. West Virginia is expecting about a four percent increase in lawyers between now and 2026. There are fewer than 5,000 lawyers in the state today. If you’d like to become a lawyer in West Virginia, there’s considerable opportunity, so read on.
Get Your Bachelor’s Degree First
You’ll need to get your bachelor’s degree before anything. It’s the first step in becoming a lawyer. The West Virginia Board of Law Examiners requires any person who graduates from a college or university to be on the list of schools that are accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. What your degree might be in is irrelevant. That’s because there is no such thing as a pre-law degree. It could be in literature or mathematics. What law schools want to see is that you earned that degree and enjoyed the experience. That’s because if you enjoyed it, you probably had good grades with it too. It’s a big plus with admission committees.
Take the LSAT
The LSAT is an acronym for Law School Admission Test. It doesn’t really have anything to do with law, but it’s a good predictor of the analytical and rational thinking the goes along with being a quality law student. The test takes about three hours to complete. There are five sections to it that consist of analytical thinking, rational thinking, reading comprehension, an experimental section and a writing section. You won’t know which section is experimental, so you’re forced to do your best on the test. It isn’t scored. The writing sample isn’t scored either, but it’s sent to every law school that you apply to, so you’ll want to do well on that too. You’d be smart to take a commercial preparatory class for the test, especially because you’re competing nationally for a seat in one of the nation’s 200 plus accredited law schools. You could increase your score by 10 points or more.
The LSAT is offered at least four times per year throughout West Virginia. Notify the Law School Admission Council, pay $215 by credit or debit card and let them know where you want to take the exam. Scores range from a low of 120 to a high of 180. There is only one accredited law school in West Virginia. That’s the West Virginia University College of Law. The average score was 154 with a grade point average of 3.46. If you don’t get into West Virginia University there are still more than 200 accredited law schools in the United States that you can attend. You can still take the bar exam in West Virginia too.
Credential Assembly Service
You’ve gone this far, so let’s keep going to the next step. That’s the Credential Assembly Service (CAS). The CAS is mandatory, but that’s good, because it streamlines the admission process for you. What it does is gathers your transcripts, letters of recommendation, evaluations, writing samples and LSAT scores and sends them to the various schools that you apply to electronically. It costs $245 and $45 per law school, and it’s worth every penny. It’s money well spent.
Time and Internship
You’ll need 58,000 minutes of instruction time and 45,000 of those minutes in law school classes. Those deal in everything from tort classes, constitutional law and even an internship class. The internships are mandatory and must be out of the classroom. You’ll work with real clients with real legal issues. Be sure to give the internships your best efforts as they’re graded.
The West Virginia Bar Exam
The next stop involves the bar exam. West Virginia is one of the minority of states where you’re supposed to pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility test before you can take the bar exam. A passing grade is 75%. Technically, you have 25 months after the bar exam, but the Board of Bar Examiners prefers that you pass it in law school, and before admittance to the West Virginia bar. You’ll have a about six weeks between the time that you graduate from law school and the bar exam. You’ll use that time wisely by taking a commercial prep course for the bar exam before you take it. You’re jamming three years of time into six weeks. Do everything that you can possibly do to pass that exam. Just ask fellow students who they’re planning on taking the course with and follow suit. West Virginia administers the Uniform Bar Exam. It’s over two days, and there are three parts to the exam. The first day is the Multistate Performance Test. It involves tasks that are expected from attorneys like, briefs, contracts or client letters. The second half of the day involves the Multistate Essay Exam. You’ll be writing essays on a wide variety of legal questions and issues. There are six of them spread over three hours. The second day is the Multistate Bar Exam. You’ll be answering 100 multiple choice questions in the morning, and another 100 in the afternoon. From the last ascertainable statistics in the spring of 2022, the pass rate was 64.58%.
The West Virginia bar exam fee if $550, but be sure to check on that. Don’t forget the Character and Fitness investigation fee. That was $355, but check on that too. When you’ve passed the West Virginia bar exam, a Certificate of Eligibility will issue. You must appear before the Supreme Court of Appeals within 12 months, take the final step in becoming an attorney in West Virginia. That involves raising your right hand and taking the oath of office and signing the roll of attorneys. Congratulations! You’re now an attorney, and you can practice anywhere in the courts of the State of West Virginia without restriction.