Chris Kaminski and Amy C. Marshall are attorneys practicing law in Alabama. Both Mr. Kaminski and Ms. Marshall serve as mentors for legal professionals, contributing to important conversations in their space and helping guide others as they work towards building fruitful careers.
Chris Kaminski and Amy C. Marshall mention that an important first step for becoming an attorney is developing a clear idea of the educational paths required to receive a degree and become licensed. For this reason, they have provided a quick overview of the educational paths for prospective attorneys.
Receiving a Bachelor’s Degree
Receiving a degree from an accredited college is a prerequisite for acceptance from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. Chris and Amy maintain one important thing to note is that the ABA does not recommend one area of study over another, and law schools do not prefer accepting applicants with certain degrees over others.
This means that students are free to receive their bachelor’s degree in whatever area of study that they prefer. According to Chris Kaminski and Amy C Marshall, many prospective attorneys will choose their majors based on overall career goals in the field of law. Those who want to work in the public sector may major in sociology, those with an interest in environmental law may choose environmental science, etc.
Some attorneys recommend majors that prepare prospective attorneys to develop skills that are necessary to excel in law school such as writing, critical reading, communication, research, organization, and problem-solving. That is why it is common to see people who want to be attorneys major in subjects like political science, history, or criminal justice. Still, it is a prospective attorney’s personal choice.
Passing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)
After receiving their bachelor’s degree, prospective attorneys will need to pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is a core component for being accepted into the law school of their choice. Admissions officers at law schools use scores to assess applicants’ knowledge and skills.
The exam includes five multiple-choice sections and an unscored writing sample, testing applicants on skills that are essential for future legal work such as information management, comprehension, reasoning, analysis, argumentation, and critical thinking.
Back in 2016, Arizona State University started accepting Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores as an alternative to LSATs, with Harvard Law School, Columbia, Cornell, Yale, and a few other American Bar Association (ABA) accredited schools following suit. For this reason, Chris Kaminski and Amy C. Marshall mention that it is worthwhile for those who wish to become attorneys to check which exams their top choices accept before studying and eventually taking them.
When it comes down to it, getting into law school is extremely competitive, and acceptance into one’s top choice will depend on their undergraduate coursework, grades, extracurriculars, LSAT/GRE scores, and a personal interview combined.
Completing Law School
When scores have been sent back and prospective attorneys are happy with them, they can begin applying for law schools. Having knowledge of the areas of study available at one’s top choices, the faculty, tuition, and overall curriculum can be helpful prior to applying. It’s always best to apply to law schools that have curriculum containing your area of interest.
Chris Kaminski of Alabama and Amy C. Marshall, attorney note that completing law school and receiving a JD from an American Bar Association accredited school is necessary to qualify for the bar examination in most states. Typically, it will take students three years to obtain their Juris Doctorate.
Law school curriculums are expansive and generally cover core areas of law for the first half. This includes subjects such as property law, criminal law, contracts, and civil procedure where prospective attorneys can build essential skills in research and legal writing. After that point, students can expect to take specialized courses that more align with the areas of law they wish to pursue such as tax law, environmental law, bankruptcy law, property law, civil rights law, family law, etc.
Passing the Bar Examination
A majority of states will require that attorneys graduate from an ABA-approved law school and pass the state bar examination. The state bar is an examination that tests prospective attorneys on their legal knowledge, competency, and essential skills through multiple choice questions, essays, and practical exercises that span a variety of legal subjects. The format can vary depending on the state, but it typically includes a two day exam where the first includes six 30-minute essays and the second includes questions that are meant to test one’s knowledge of that particular state’s law.
Bar exams can also include the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which is a multiple choice exam that functions as an ethics examination.
Chris Kaminski and Amy C. Marshall note that it is important to realize that the bar examination is not the only factor in whether or not a person will be accepted into the bar. State board bar examiners may also consider the candidate’s character, educational background, overall competence level, and their ability to represent others in pressing legal matters before offering licensure. After all of these things are considered, the candidate can be accepted.
The Road to Becoming an Attorney is Long but Worth It!
Both Chris Kaminski of Alabama and Amy C. Marshall, attorney recognize that the road to becoming an attorney can be daunting, but it really is worth it. A career in law can be extremely fulfilling, financially rewarding, and can provide excellent opportunities to help others along the way.
Chris and Amy maintain that, while the road is long, there are many ways that prospective attorneys can work to make the process a bit easier on themselves. Making the time to study is key, but people who want to be attorneys should also be ready for unexpected delays or challenges along the way.
Do not get discouraged if you do not get the score that you would like on your LSAT or do not pass the bar exam on your first try, for example. Accepting temporary setbacks and coming back stronger is essential, in part because it will serve one well in their legal career as well!